Woman searching for accessible mental health treatment in Texas

Mental health care in Texas is, unfortunately, not as accessible as it should be at this point in time. In fact, Texas consistently ranks as one of the worst American states in terms of accessibility across multiple studies. 

This is most unfortunate for the residents of Texas who are greatly in need of mental health care or behavioral health care, but do not know how to access it in a system that is overwhelmed and not user-friendly. 

Furthermore, mental health treatment in Texas is not always affordable and the state has a high rate of uninsured individuals. These issues are especially problematic among Texan youth. 

Fortunately, action is being taken to improve the mental health care crisis in Texas so more residents of all ages and demographics can find the help they need. 

Is Mental Health Treatment Accessible in Texas?

According to a 2023 study by the nonprofit advocacy group Mental Health America, Texas ranks #51 out of all states in terms of access to mental health care. 

Factors that were taken into account for this ranking included:

Also, Texas is also currently experiencing a staffing and work shortage of mental health professionals, an issue which has only worsened after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Efforts are being taken to improve these factors and increase mental health care access in Texas, but the process will take some time. 

Factors That Impact Mental Health Care Accessibility in Texas

The accessibility of mental health care in Texas is affected by numerous factors. 

Lack of Private Treatment Providers

There is a lack of overall private treatment providers who are properly trained and accessible in Texas, and thus providers in state-run facilities are overwhelmed and overburdened. 

And many of the private mental health providers who are available in Texas have resorted to only accepting cash, making them unaffordable for many. 

Overloaded Community Mental Health System

With a lack of private mental healthcare providers in Texas, community mental health systems are overloaded.

To add to this issue, community systems are often confusing and difficult to navigate for the people they were designed to help. 

Long Wait Times for Program Entry

Because the community mental health system in Texas is so congested, people often experience very long wait times and waiting lists when seeking mental health care. 

In some areas and treatment centers in Texas, people are waiting as much as six or seven months to get an appointment for mental health treatment. 

A long wait time can be very harmful to someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis, and then may be more likely to end up seeking help from an emergency room. 

Low Insurance Reimbursement Rates

It is not uncommon for state-funded insurance options to offer lower reimbursement rates than private insurance providers. 

Because of this some treatment facilities may not accept state-funded insurance like Medicaid or Medicare, or may favor people who are paying with cash or private insurance. 

Lack of Treatment Information

In Texas there is also a lack of treatment information for the general population, meaning that people in need of mental health treatment often don’t know how to get help. 

This can include not knowing where help is available, as well as not knowing how to pay for it or what community resources are available. 

Cash Payment Preference vs. Insurance

Since health insurance can take so long to be approved, some providers in Texas may now be giving preference to people who can pay cash, or only accepting cash as payment. 

This can result in treatment becoming completely inaccessible for people who cannot pay cash. 

How Many People in Texas Need Mental Health Care?

One area where Texas ranks well is in terms of the prevalence of mental illness — the same Mental Health America study that ranked Texas last in terms of access to mental health care also ranked Texas at #3 in terms of mental illness prevalence. 

Despite this, there is still a great need for better mental health care access throughout the state. 

In fact, approximately one in five Texans is in need of mental health treatment, and one in three Texan youth reports not being able to access the mental health care they need. 

Additional data confirms that it is Texas youth and adolescents who are the most in need of access to mental health care. This is because they are more likely to be living with a depressive disorder or substance use disorder and less likely to receive adequate and consistent treatment. 

Is Mental Health Care Available in All Areas of Texas?

Texas has a fair amount of areas that are considered rural, and these areas are lacking in mental health care when compared to bigger cities.

Most licensed healthcare providers can be found in more populated areas, and people seeking treatment have to travel to cities like Austin, Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, or San Antonio. 

People in rural areas do have access to telemedicine services, which can include mental health services, that allow them to meet with health care providers virtually. 

On the other hand, people in rural areas may not have the internet connection to access these services, and can continue to struggle for proper help. 

How Are Texans Responding to the Lack of Mental Health Care?

Texans are responding to a lack of mental health care services and long wait times by instead seeking care in emergency rooms and hoping for help for their mental health issues. 

Unfortunately, most emergency departments are not equipped to handle mental health and behavioral health emergencies, and these situations just add to the challenges of a system that is already at capacity and over-crowded. 

When Texans are unable to access the mental health care they need, they are more likely to engage in impulsive and dangerous behaviors like substance abuse or self-harm. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicides in Texas have risen by nearly 19% between 1999 and 2020, and this number, along with the rate for substance use disorders, is likely to rise unless access to mental health care is improved drastically. 

How Is the State of Texas Addressing the Mental Health Care Crisis?

In order to address the mental health care crisis in Texas, funding has been increased in the last year for the mental health system by 30%, with multiple House Bills in the legislature that will provide incentives to address the workforce shortage areas. 

Of the $11.68 billion that was allotted for this increased funding in mental health for Texas this past year, $24 million was set aside for the Uvalde region and those affected by the mass shooting at Robb Elementary.  

Another bill that was recently passed was the Innovation Program grant, which requires local mental health authorities to publish online data related to mental health care as well as submit to an audit every 10 years. 

Supporters of this bill believe it will eliminate much of the confusion that results when navigating and understanding the Texas mental health care system. 

Steps to Reverse the Mental Health Care Crisis in Texas

After the end of a global pandemic and following a mass shooting tragedy in Uvalde, the issue of access to mental health care in Texas has never been more urgent than it is now

For this reason, increased funding for issues like building the mental health workforce and improved suicide prevention awareness in schools will help to start the long process of reversing the mental health crisis in Texas. 

Organizations like the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium are also currently working on initiatives to help improve the mental health care system in Texas for children and adolescents. 

Residents of Texas can also speak up and do their part by supporting political candidates and regulations that are directed at facilitating change for the mental health of Texans. 

Navita Health is working to address the mental health care crisis in Texas by providing top-quality residential mental health treatment to both adults and teens, addressing the unique needs of adolescents and families. 

Access the High Quality Mental Health Care You Need in Texas

Adults and teens who are seeking life-changing and transformative treatment for a variety of mental health conditions in Texas can find it at Navita Health. 

We offer a wide array of residential care services in a sanctuary-like setting, where every guest is treated with the utmost respect and dignity. 

Contact us today to speak with one of our compassionate representatives, and learn more about the programs that we have to offer to you or your loved one.