NAMI Austin Meets About Texas Mental Health Code Update on October 24th

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NAMI Austin will host a meeting on Monday, October 24, 2011 featuring Dr. Susan Stone, as she presents a status report and gathers community input for recommendations to improve and update the Texas Mental Health Code. The project is a policy initiative funded by the Hogg Foundation, and headed by Dr. Stone. The meeting opens at 7 p.m. at the Canteen Conference Room, Austin State Hospital, 41st and Guadalupe. All interested citizens are invited.

NAMI Austin will host a meeting on Monday, October 24, 2011 featuring Dr. Susan Stone, as she presents a status report and gathers community input for recommendations to improve and update the Texas Mental Health Code. The project is a policy initiative funded by the Hogg Foundation, and headed by Dr. Stone. The meeting opens at 7 p.m. at the Canteen Conference Room, Austin State Hospital, 41st and Guadalupe. All interested citizens are invited.

“Considering the critical nature of issues involved in mental health care, the implications for communities across the state, and the disturbing rise of those with mental illness flooding the criminal justice system, improvements at the level of public policy are seriously needed,” states Adrienne Kennedy, NAMI Austin president.    

The Texas Mental Health Code (TMHC) Project is a policy initiative funded by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. Texas Appleseed is the primary grantee, with Disability Rights Texas as a partner. Dr. Susan Stone is the contracted facilitator of the project. This is a two-year grant awarded in November of 2010. The end result will be a report that outlines issues and suggested changes to the TMHC to better reflect our current behavioral health system.

“We also strongly believe that, not only must the Code better reflect the current system, but also that it can and must point toward strategic improvements. The Code needs to reflect the best data from evidence-based practices across Texas and in other states, many of which are showing steady improvement of outcomes along with significant cost savings,” according to Cathy Weaver, advocacy and governmental liaison chair of NAMI Austin.

In addition, according to Dr. Stone, findings show that court processes around civil commitment vary widely across the state. Stakeholders have called for clarifying commitment criteria, standardizing court processing and court time frames regarding initial detention and re-evaluating assisted outpatient treatment.

Dr. Susan Stone, a consultant and practicing psychiatrist and attorney, is coordinating the process under the guidance of a steering committee whose members include Professor Michael Churgin, University of Texas School of Law; Attorney Deborah Fowler, Texas Appleseed; Judge Guy Herman, Travis County Probate Court; Attorney Chris Lopez, Texas Department of Health Services; Attorney Beth Mitchell, Advocacy, Inc.; Professor Brian Shannon, Texas Tech University School of Law; and Dr. Jim Van Norman, Austin Travis County Integral Care.

About NAMI
For three decades, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has established itself as the most formidable grassroots mental health advocacy organization in the country. NAMI’s support and public education efforts are focused on educating America about mental illness, offering resources to those in need, and insisting that mental illness become a high national priority.

To learn more about NAMI Austin and their education and support programs, visit http://www.namiaustin.org. NAMI Austin is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Taxpayer ID number 74-2374858.

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Adrienne Kennedy
NAMI Austin
(512) 420-9810
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