Bailes: Addressing mental healthcare in our rural district

By HD 18 State Representative Ernest Bailes

Mental health issues know no boundaries and can affect anyone at any time. As I work with our local communities, I find that many are at a loss on knowing where to turn to address such issues. Due to the ever-growing complexity of our mental health needs, all of Texas is effected, especially in our local schools and our prison system, just to name a few.

Local Options to Consider

Many people have a difficult time finding local providers for their area. In HD 18, there are few options to help offset the overall health care challenges: Tri-County Behavioral Healthcare, Health Center of Southeast Texas, and the Burke Center.

-Tri-County Behavioral Healthcare: Tri County offers behavioral health, intellectual and developmental disabilities services in Liberty and Walker counties (281-432-3000-Cleveland, 936-334-3275-Liberty, 936-291-5800-Huntsville).

-Health Center of Southeast Texas (HCSET): HCSET is a Federally Qualified Health Center which offers both primary and behavioral health care. In addition to routine health care services, the HCSET also provides mental health services. There are 3 locations here in HD 18 — Cleveland, Liberty, and Shepherd (281-592-2224).

-Burke Center: The Burke Center provides mental health and intellectual and development disability services for San Jacinto County (936-327-3786- Livingston).

Legislative Update–A brief recap of a few of the bills:

During this past legislative session, there was a strong emphasis on addressing mental health needs. By working together in a bi-partisan way, we made tremendous headway on much-needed legislation. While there were numerous pieces of legislation put forward and passed, I want to point out two bills, House Bill 10 and Senate Bill 74, which I believe are especially significant.

HB 10 provides mental health parity in Texas so that health plans cannot disproportionately impose limitations on mental health and substance use disorder treatments. This bill requires that if an existing health insurance plan offers mental health coverage, the mental health benefits must be the same as the medical and surgical benefits.

SB 74 streamlines the complex state credentialing process to allow more providers to offer mental health services in our state. There is a major shortage of mental health care providers, especially in rural areas, and this legislation will reduce challenges of recruitment and credentialing.

Other legislation which passed will go a long way in comprehensively addressing all medical needs, both physical and mental, at the same location.

While there is no one-size-fits all solution to the challenges associated with mental health needs, we are moving in the right direction. If you need additional information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office at 936-628-6687 or

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