Senfronia Thompson files bill to improve school safety

Legislation calls for “a healthier state of mind and safer schools for Texas Children”

Austin, Texas — February 20, 2019 – Texas House Public Health Committee Chairwoman Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), a former public school teacher, has filed legislation to make Texas schools safer by improving the mental and behavioral health of Texas children. Her proposal, HB 10, calls for the creation of the Texas Mental & Behavioral Health Research Institute to be funded with voter approved bonds. It is modeled in part after the Cancer Research Institute of Texas.

The Texas Mental & Behavioral Health Research Institute (TMBHRI) will focus on increasing the number of mental and behavioral health care providers for children, rapid delivery of such care, and mental and behavioral health focused research.

“The program’s research would be administered statewide through the state’s medical schools, other Health Related Institutions, and their public-private partners to tackle one of the most important assets of our state’s future – our children,” said Thompson.

Her legislation calls for three main reforms: A) increasing the number of child and adolescent psychiatrists and specialized nurses across the state; B) creation of a telemedicine program to rapidly connect pediatricians and school health providers with trained mental health providers; and C) creation of a state funded Texas Mental and Behavioral Health Care Research Institute to develop cures and treatments.

“This legislation will place Texas on the leading edge in school safety through mental and behavioral health research,” Thompson added.

To fund the program, Thompson has also filed HJR 5 calling for statewide voter approval of a multibillion dollar bond fund which can draw down matching federal dollars.

In summary, Thompson observed, “Texans’ are all too familiar with the tragedies of mental and behavioral health illness. From school shootings, to homelessness, to some of our own family members and friends who struggle with addiction and mental illness. Much like CPRIT is bringing success to Texas in fighting cancer, the Texas Mental & Behavior Health Research Institute (TMBHRI) will do the same with making a healthier state of mind and safer schools for our children. It deserves to be our top priority.”