2023 Legislative Review & Our New Clinic
A Message From Our CEO
The regular 88th Legislative Session ended in May, with two special sessions called by Governor Abbott to address remaining policy issues. In recent years, mental health has emerged as a critical public health issue, demanding urgent attention from policymakers and stakeholders alike. As economic challenges and events such as the COVID-19 pandemic continue to affect people’s well-being, the need for comprehensive mental health services and support has become increasingly evident. This session, Texas had an unprecedented surplus of $32.7B to work with and lawmakers negotiated a $321.3B budget. The Legislature appropriated $9.4B to behavioral health across 25 state agencies, a 15% increase from last session. Behavioral Health legislation was top of mind this session, with some notable behavioral health bills.
Maintaining and increasing funding through grant programs for key areas impacting our local community
- SB 292, a grant program to reduce recidivism, arrest, and incarceration of individuals with mental illness saw a $30M increase across the state. This program helped fund the establishment of Integral Care’s Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) Team in 2018.
- HB 13, a grant program that supports community mental health programs, saw a $15M increase statewide. Integral Care utilizes some of these funds for on-campus mental health services.
- The Healthy Community Collaboratives grant saw an $8M increase in Texas. Led by Integral Care, Travis County’s HCC program has resulted in the implementation of coordinated and effective service delivery in homeless services.
- $30M for a new Innovation Grant Program in SB 26 to expand access to mental health services for children and families statewide.
Enhancing School-Based Mental Health Support
- Funding was increased for youth mobile crisis outreach teams from $8M to $14M, which will help support three additional youth mobile crisis outreach teams for children in foster care.
- To support student mental health, the Legislature increased funding for the Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT) telehealth program from $50M to $142M for the biennium with the aim of extending TCHATT to all school districts. Integral Care and Dell Medical School provide telehealth appointments to help meet the mental health needs of children and adolescents in Travis County through TCHATT.
- HB 1 includes a $58M increase in funding for Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Services, a statewide program that serves families with children birth to 36 months with developmental delays or disabilities.
- HB 3 increased Mental Health First Aid training requirements for teachers to address shortages in the mental health workforce serving children. Integral Care provides Mental Health First Aid Training in Travis County. Register here.
Expanding access and Enhancing Care Quality
- SB 26 is one of the most significant bills passed this session which includes funding and directives across an array of mental health services. In addition to its matching grant program for community-based initiatives, it requires the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to develop a plan for transitioning individuals who require a nursing facility level of care and high level of behavioral support, out of state hospitals. The bill adds to current statute related to Non-Physician Mental Health Professionals (NPMHPs) stationed in Education Service Centers to allow Local Mental Health Authorities to request a waiver if there is a shortage of qualified NPMHP applicants, allowing an LMSW or LPC-A to be employed to perform the NPMHP duties.
Taking Action to address the Opioid Crisis
- SB 867 amends the Health and Safety Code, authorizing HHSC to provide opioid antagonists (like Naloxone) under the opioid antagonist program to include institutions of higher education.
- In addition to support for institutions of higher education, HB 3908 requires fentanyl prevention and drug poisoning awareness education for public school students in grades 6 through 12.
- SB 629 requires public school districts and authorizes open‑enrollment charter schools and private schools to adopt and implement a policy regarding the maintenance, administration, and disposal of opioid antagonists for campuses that serve students in grades 6 through 12.
- SB 1319 requires mandatory reporting of overdoses for the purpose of public safety mapping and applies to a law enforcement officer, first responder, or other person who administers emergency services who is employed by a county. Access to this overdose data will help public health agencies mobilize prevention and intervention response, and hopefully save lives.
We appreciate our legislators for their hard work and continued support of behavioral health. Read more in our End of Session Report, which highlights additional information about behavioral health legislation passed this session including Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Suicide Prevention and Workforce.
Chief Executive Officer
Past Transparencies sorted by year
Highlight: St. John Clinic Now Open
Integral Care’s new St. John Clinic, which opened on July 17th, offers integrated primary and mental health care for more than 5,000 adults and children in Travis County. The clinic is located at 6937 N. IH 35, Austin, TX 78752. Lone Star Circle of Care serves as the primary care provider, offering family medicine and pediatric services.
“Integrated primary and mental health care brings together health professionals such as psychiatrists, physicians, nurse practitioners, and case managers under one roof. This team collaborates to support the whole person – body and mind – improving health outcomes for clients,” said Integral Care CEO David Evans.
Other services available at this location include counseling programs, wellness programs, a pharmacy for clients, and referrals to community resources. Administrative offices are also onsite. In addition, the building features free meeting space for community members and murals painted by artists from Art from the Streets.
The St. John Clinic is in an area of Travis County that is significant in Austin’s African American history. Beginning in 1869, the area hosted the annual Great St. John Encampment, dubbed “Black Austin’s homecoming.” African Americans from across Central Texas would make a pilgrimage to the St. John community for a social, religious, and educational conference.
Integral Care, along with collaborators Lone Star Circle of Care, Travis County and the City of Austin, will continue efforts to expand access to quality mental and primary health care that serves the diverse needs of our community.
“We only get the community that we deserve when we decide to build it together,” Travis County Commissioner Jeff Travillion said. “This is an opportunity to build something very special together.”
Highlight: Mental Health & Back to School
In recent years, we have seen significant increases in depression, anxiety, and youth thinking about suicide. With back to school just around the corner, many children and youth – and parents – may experience heightened feelings of stress or anxiety.
One big way we can support the mental health of our children and youth during this time is by talking about it. Our Ask, Listen, Talk, Repeat website, created in collaboration with the City of Austin, Austin Public Health, and Travis County, gives you the tools you need to talk to kids about mental health. Know when someone needs help, how to talk about it, where to find help, and how to care for your own mental health. You can also order Conversation Cards for a fun way to normalize talks about mental health.
Highlight: Summer Group Recap
Integral Care Summer Camps offer continuation of care for students during breaks from school. The Integrated Care in Schools program provides Summer Camp services to elementary, middle, and high school-aged students in Del Valle, Manor, and Pflugerville. They run an average of 20 groups each summer for youth from first to 12th grade and most groups meet once a week for six weeks. Groups work together on skills training, engaging in self-esteem exercises, and other activities. Some groups include field trips where they can practice their skills in the community. This summer, field trips included visiting Candlelight Ranch, rock climbing on the Greenbelt, swimming, and visiting the Bob Bullock Museum and local parks. These summer programs help children and youth build life skills, get outdoors and be active, and explore their community with their peers – all of which contribute to improved mental health.
Special thanks to our donors who make these programs possible. Your support helps us provide essential mental health services to children and youth in our community.
If you would like to support programs like Integral Care’s Summer Camps, please visit our website. Your donation will help us continue to provide important services to our community.
Austin Pride 2023
Integral Care is a proud sponsor of the Austin PRIDE Festival and Parade! We will be tabling at this year’s festival on Saturday, August 12th from 11 am to 6 pm. Be sure to stop by and say hello! Learn more about the celebration and event activities and purchase tickets here.
August Together We Will Heal Forum
Join us on August 16th at 1:30pm for this month’s virtual Together We Will Heal forum, “The Impact of Hearing Loss.” Jacqueline Miller, founder of Healthy Actions Intervening Responsibly (H.A.I.R.), will share her story and discuss the basics of hearing loss, how common it is, how it impacts individuals, families, and communities, and more.