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Experts Collaborating on Mental Healthcare Reforms

Behavioral health experts in the greater Harris County area are trying to draw up a new blue print for the mental health system. The group is identifying about a dozen topics to work on going forward. Mental Health Association Executive Director Betsy Schwartz says one idea is to develop a uniform medical record. This way […]

Behavioral health experts in the greater Harris County area are trying to draw up a new blue print for the mental health system.

The group is identifying about a dozen topics to work on going forward. Mental Health Association Executive Director Betsy Schwartz says one idea is to develop a uniform medical record. This way medical professionals could better help people who seek services at one location, drop out and then appear at another service provider. Schwartz says she’ll be working on a group that focuses on the funding for mental health providers and programs. She says integrating and pooling funding would strengthen the system.

Another issue that officials point to is fragmentation. Schwartz says access to behavioral medicine would be easier if mental services were offered along side physical medical services.

Baylor College of Medicine Doctor David Buck works with the Healthcare for the Homeless. It’s estimated that 60 to 80 percent of the homeless have a mental or substance abuse problem. Buck says they serve about 3,500 patients each year. He says they are trying to provide more “one-stop” shopping in area shelters.

A bill introduced during the last legislative session would have reformed the behavioral healthcare system in the state. It did not pass, but an interim committee was set up to study the isssue. The Mental Health Association hopes the projects developed in the two day summit will feed into that process.

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