Houston Matters

Houston To Get New Public Mental Health Hospital — The First In 30 Years

The new facility will allow more patients needing long-term mental health care to be treated close to home.

Houston’s getting its first new public mental health facility in more than 30 years. That’s because UTHealth is receiving its first portion of state funding for such a new hospital.

Dr. Jair Soares joins Houston Matters to tell us how this new hospital will be different from what already exists in Greater Houston and how it will affect the mental health needs of area residents. Soares is the chair of UTHealth’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and he’s the executive director of the UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Center.

Soares says, under the current model, psychiatric patients requiring long-term treatment are sent to state hospitals far away. The new facility will allow many of them to be treated close to home.

Plans call for building the new hospital next to the Harris County Psychiatric Center. This will allow the new center to admit patients discharged by HCPC who need long-term care.

The state’s Health and Human Services Commission approved the first $6 million portion of funding for this new facility, which will be spent on the architectural planning and design phase of the building. The funds were part of some $119 million expected to be received for the facility over the next two years as a part of money approved by 2017 Texas Legislature for mental health projects statewide, Soares said.

He says he hopes to break ground on the project by early 2019 and to begin admitting patients by 2021.