Lawmakers hear mental health concerns

Texas next to last for mental health spending

Published On: Feb 28 2013 03:39:27 PM CST
AUSTIN, Texas -

Advocates for enhanced mental health care are taking their cause to the state Capitol.

At an outdoor rally on Thursday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers spoke in support of more funding for treatment programs.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Texas spends $39 per capita on mental health services every year compared to a national average of $121. Only Idaho spends less.

Mental health advocacy groups want more funding for services at hospitals, schools and community centers. They say treatment could save the state money in the long run by reducing crime, homelessness and unemployment.

Budget writers in the Senate have indicated some willingness to provide $200 million for a wide variety of increased services. But the competition for funding is intense this year as lawmakers confront looming debts.