Mental health has a substantial impact on student academic performance. As the need for mental health resources in Texas significantly outpace availability and access, schools are often the best location for students to connect with necessary mental health services and community support.
The Texas Education Agency and its partners, including the Region 14 Comprehensive Center, are building statewide school-based mental health supports to ensure students, families, schools, and districts have access to the tools and resources necessary to effectively address mental and behavioral health needs.
In 2019 the Texas Legislature passed multiple bills to increase availability and access to mental health resources for students and families across the state. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) was made responsible for coordinating data collection, training educators, and reporting findings related to school mental health resources. As part of a collective strategy emerging from this legislation, TEA recognized an opportunity to enhance existing work streams, expand current partnerships, and build new school supports.
“Increasing awareness of what mental health means and the resources and information available for students and families is critical,” Julie Wayman, Director of Mental and Behavioral Health in the TEA Supportive Schools Division, said. “Before the passage of these bills, mental health literacy was nonexistent on a large scale.”
TEA was already engaged in significant work in student mental health through a Project AWARE grant and routine engagement with the 20 regional Education Service Centers (ESCs) throughout the state to provide training and professional learning opportunities.
“To build integrated services for students and schools, we sought partners working on similar initiatives,” Julie Wayman said. As a result, TEA partnered with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), South-Southwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (SSW MHTTC) at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health (TIEMH) at UT Austin, and the Region 14 Comprehensive Center (R14CC).