Mental Health Matters: Enhancing Access and Coverage in Texas

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By: TAHP | Monday, May 20, 2024

If you or a loved one are experiencing a life-threatening mental health situation, call 911 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 988.

The Big Picture: The need for mental health services has dramatically increased, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and greater awareness of mental health issues. Addressing this growing demand is essential for the well-being of Texans.

  • One in five Americans struggle with mental health each year and nearly 50% of all people face a mental health illness in their lifetime.

Taking Action: Health plans are doing their part to get members the care they need with an understanding that mental health is an integral part of overall health and well-being.

By the Numbers:

  • 89% of health plans are actively recruiting mental health support providers.
  • Almost 3-in-4 insured Americans say it’s easy to get their needed mental health support.
  • In the span of three years, the number of in-network mental health providers rose by an average for 48% among commercial health plans.

What They’re Saying: 76% of Americans view mental health to be as important as physical health. 56% of Americans are also seeking mental health resources.

More Work to be Done: Texas has a severe shortage of mental health professionals, with 173 counties lacking any psychiatrists. This shortage is expected to worsen, with projections indicating a deficit of over 1,000 psychiatrists by 2032.

Telehealth for the Win: The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased telehealth coverage, including a 100 fold increase in virtual psychotherapy visits. Most medical services have shifted back to in-person but telehealth remains popular for mental health services, accounting for two-thirds of telehealth visits.

  • Increased Access, Reduced Wait Times: Telehealth services have minimized wait times, allowing more individuals to receive timely care. This is particularly important in areas where in-person mental health services are scarce.

Texas Making Progress:

  • 2023 Legislation: Texas allocated $4 billion for behavioral health services over the next two years, including $140 million for the Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT) program.
  • Task Force: Governor Greg Abbott appointed a task force to address health care workforce shortages.
  • Workforce Support: SB 532 extends the Mental Health Professional Loan Repayment Program and mandates mental health service information for students at higher education institutions.

The Bottom Line: Mental health care is more important than ever, and insurers play a crucial role in providing coverage. By supporting telehealth and addressing workforce shortages, Texas can ensure that all residents have access to the mental health services they need.

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