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East Texas digs into county breakdown of mental health costs


The East Texas Council of Governments has released the results of a new study by an Austin firm that tabulates the cost of mental health care county by county.

The county judges in the region requested a thorough review of the costs and expenditures associated with mental health and substance abuse issues, according to David Cleveland, executive director of the East Texas Council of Governments.

“Each of our 14 county judges, through this process, was able to document that they have a common problem among all 14 counties and that is the cost of mental health services that’s born by the counties continues to rise,” Cleveland said.

When Gregg County judge Bill Stoudt took the bench 12 years ago, he made about 100 mental health commitments a year. Today, he estimates that he handles about 1,000 each year.

Stoudt says that the counties are being inundated with mental health issues and each one has a different way of doing intake and assessment.

“The survey continues to show the need for a greater focus from a state legislature and other governmental entities to try to find solutions to the shortage of beds and streamlining of the system so people can get treatment sooner than later,” Stoudt said.

Cleveland says the next step is to create a region-wide strategic plan for addressing mental health needs and services and this 32-page survey of expenditures sets the foundation.

Morningside Research and Consulting of Austin prepared the report, “Mental Health Care Services and Expenditures.”

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' experience to Red River Radio having started out as a radio news reporter and moving into television journalism as a newsmagazine producer / host, talk-show moderator, programming director and managing producer and news director / anchor for commercial, public broadcasting and educational television. He has more recently worked in advertising, marketing and public relations as a writer, video producer and media consultant. In pursuit of higher learning, Chuck studied Mass Communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.
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