Four mental health policy projects with statewide implications have received grants totaling $265,348 from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
This is the second round of grants awarded through a new mental health policy initiative started by the foundation in 2008 to better understand and improve local, state and federal policies that affect Texas consumers of mental health services.
"The foundation's mission is to improve mental health in Texas, and one of the most effective ways we can do that is through policy research, analysis and education," said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez Jr. "We've already experienced success with the first year's projects, which focused on policies affecting the mental health of youth of color in the juvenile justice system, infants and toddlers in day care, Texas prison exonerees and detainees in federal immigration centers in Texas."
The four projects that received grants in the program's second year will address the following issues.
- Boarding home regulations: Mental Health America of Texas received $96,769 to help develop new model regulatory standards that protect the health and wellbeing of Texas boarding house residents and support recovery and rehabilitation of people with mental illness. House Bill 216 requires the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to develop the model standards and clarifies the authority of local governments to enforce them. Mental Health America of Texas and its affiliates in Abilene, Beaumont, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and Stafford will work with city and county public officials to encourage and assist in establishing local licensing and regulation of boarding houses.
- Public services for young people: Transitioning to adulthood and independence can be difficult for teenagers, but it's especially hard for runaway, homeless and foster youth with a mental health condition. The Texas Network of Youth Services received a $77,780 grant to help ease that transition for Texas teens and young adults. The organization will hire and train runaway, homeless and foster youth to interview their peers at eight sites in Texas, prepare a report with recommendations for state and local policy makers, and include youth in advocacy efforts, such as testifying before legislative committees.
- Loss of public benefits after employment: Finding a job can be an important step toward recovery for people with mental health conditions, yet many could risk losing essential disability income and health coverage by accepting employment without being informed about the impact on their benefits. Advocates of Abilene, Inc. received a $60,799 grant to help reduce that risk for consumers in Texas. The organization will research state and federal employment policies that relate to disability benefits and produce educational materials in English and Spanish to explain the impact of employment on disability and low-income benefits.
- Medicaid funding for mental health services: The Mental Health Policy Analysis Collaborative, based at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, received a $30,000 grant to identify the gap between the need for public mental health services in Houston and the extent to which Medicaid funds those needs. The study has statewide implications because Medicaid is the largest source of public mental health funding in Texas, accounting for 25 percent of the state's budget. The study could help state policy makers increase the program's effectiveness in Texas by identifying ways to increase Medicaid access and benefits for people with mental health conditions.
The Hogg Foundation was founded in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James Hogg to promote improved mental health for the people of Texas. The foundation's grants and programs support mental health consumer services, research, policy analysis and public education projects in Texas. The foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.