Category Archives: Upcoming Events

Adult Mental Health Awareness Poetry Contest: Deadline May 2

In observance of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, the Texas Department of State Health Services Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division, Mental Health America of Texas, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Texas are holding their Third Annual Statewide Adult Mental Health Awareness Poetry Contest open to adults with or in recovery from mental illness and their adult family members and friends.
Last year, more than 80 poems were received from across Texas for the contest, written by those living with and recovering from mental illness, their friends, and their families. Five winning entries were selected, along with six poems given honorable mention.
Children and adolescents interested in participating should submit entries to the Creativity Contest; please see for details.

• Poems should express the experience of living with mental illness, living with a family member with mental illness, or having a close friend with mental illness.
• Entries must be 200 words or fewer.
• Entries must be typed or legibly handwritten.
• Entrants must be Texas residents who are 18 or older as of May 1, 2014.
• The submission deadline is May 2, 2014. All entries must be received on, or postmarked by, May 2, 2014.

Each entry must include the following:
• Name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (if available). We will only contact you if your poem is chosen to ask for your permission to post it online. All entries will be reviewed with respect to privacy and winning entrants may ask that their work be posted anonymously.
• Please submit your poem by email, with your contact information, to, or send by postal mail to:
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Texas Department of State Health Services
RE: Mental Health Month Poetry Contest
Mail Code 2083
909 W. 45th Street
Austin, TX 78751
Prizes and certificates will be awarded to the poems selected as winners, and the top five poems will be announced May 20, 2014, and with the author’s permission, they will be posted on the DSHS MHSA (, Mental Health America Texas ( and NAMI Texas ( websites.


letter to HHSC Commissioner re: Vendor Drug Program

December 18, 2013

Dear Executive Commissioner Janek,

This letter is in regard to Vendor Drug Program changes that are being considered as a result of savings required by HHSC Rider 51. The Texas chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas and our 28 affiliates around the state have some concerns about this process. Our concerns includes:

• Clinical edits that could negatively impact access.
• Restrictive agreements in which drug companies give the state greater rebates if the state restricts access to competitor drugs.
• Eliminating grandfathering for drugs used to treat mental illness.
• Shrinking the Preferred Drug List (PDL), Antipsychotic Class.

These potential changes are concerning to NAMI Texas for the following reasons:
• Open access to psychotropic medications ensures that physicians can prescribe the most appropriate therapy for patients based on the patient’s unique and individual needs.
• When physicians are treating patients with mental illness, they must carefully match the individual needs of the patient to the varied characteristics of the different available medicines.
• Studies have shown restrictive policies may actually increase costs, such as partial hospitalizations, emergency mental health services, and nursing home use. And more importantly, such restrictions may contribution to an increase in patients’ pain and suffering.
• When treating mental illness, it’s important to know that each individual responds differently to different medications. Because of these differences, getting to the right treatment is a process. It often takes trying several different medications, at different doses, before a patient reaches a proper level of treatment.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in the past year 4.5% of Texans experienced serious mental illness and 18.4% experienced any mental illness. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 26.2% of adult Americans, or nearly 5 million Texans, have a diagnosable mental illness. A large population of Texans stands to be negatively affected by some of the proposed Vendor Drug Program changes.

If the decision is made not to reverse moving various antipsychotics off the Preferred Drug List, please at least consider not removing the grandfathering for patients who are stable on these drugs.
• Any patient that is stabilized on an existing medication should be exempt from any newly imposed restrictions placed upon that medication – it is not appropriate to force stabilized patients off of their medications.
• Maintaining stabilized care is not only cost-effective, but also crucial to individual health outcomes. Due to the vulnerability of the Medicaid population, it is important that stabilized care continue.
• Many of the Medicaid patients treated by these drugs take more than one medication and have likely been on the same medication regiment for years. Thus, creating barriers to appropriate medicines could adversely affect these patients.
• Preserving the physician-patient decision-making authority should be the focal point for all decisions regarding drug treatment regimens. Patients whose treatment is decided based on cost alone may not receive the best treatment for them, and consequently result in requiring more costly treatment in the short- and long-term, including emergency hospitalizations and in-patient care.

NAMI Texas did hear from the family of a person with bipolar disorder who is concerned about their loved one being moved off Seroquel XR. More time is needed to understand how this potential change in medication intake would affect the individual’s clinical outcomes. Please consider delaying the decision to move Seroquel XR off the Preferred Drug List in order to allow a chance to re-review Seroquel XR at the next P&T meeting.

Thank you very much for reviewing this letter and considering the recommendations of NAMI Texas.


Greg Hansch
Policy Coordinator, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas

DSHS Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division: Request for Comments on Chapter 415, Subchapter F – Interventions in Mental Health Programs

Dear NAMI Texas Affiliates, Members, Advocacy Leads, and Friends,

The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has posted a Request for Comment on rules concerning restraint and seclusion. These new proposed rules are a result of SB 1842, which NAMI Texas testified in support of. My testimony is attached to this blog.

NOTE: The proposed rules are attached to this blog post. FY14_Bcast120_RestraintInfmlCmt_Preamble_102813


SB 1842 testimony final

Please see below for more information from DSHS on the Request for Comment and the proposed rules. Comments are due by November 18th. If you have any thoughts, questions, or comments on the proposed rules, please let me know. You can either submit comments on your own or send comments to me (at so that I can potentially submit them on behalf of NAMI Texas.

Thank you very much for your review of this information.

Request for Comments: Chapter 415, Subchapter F – Interventions in Mental Health Programs
Comments Due November 18, 2013

The draft preamble and draft rule text below are regarding interventions in mental health programs, and are being provided to obtain informal comment. Significant changes to the rules result from legislation (Senate Bill 325 (2005) and Senate Bill 1842 (2013)); changes in the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Conditions of Participation; and comments received during the stakeholder meeting held in 2007. The draft preamble, Section by Section Summary, describes the changes to the current rules and provides reasoned justification for the changes. Please note that on Page 2 of the Preamble, Section by Section Summary, second paragraph, the term “COP” refers to the term “conditions of participation.”

A workgroup comprised of internal and external stakeholders suggested a number of revisions to the rule. However, to implement provisions of Senate Bill 1842 in a timely manner, the department decided to temporarily forego many of the revisions suggest by the workgroup because many of those revisions will require considerable time to negotiate between the various stakeholders. A workgroup will be reassembled to address broader revisions to these rules subsequent to the adoption of the rules below.

Please submit your comments via email to with the phrase “Interventions (415-F), 10-28-13, Informal Comments” in the subject line or by US mail to Janet Fletcher, Department of State Health Services, P.O. Box149347, Mail Code 2018, Austin, TX 78714. Call Janet Fletcher with questions or concerns at 512-206-5044.

Provide Feedback on the National Behavioral Health Quality Framework

Provide Feedback on the National Behavioral Health Quality Framework

Feedback Deadline: Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SAMHSA’s National Behavioral Health Quality Framework is a set of core and supplemental measures, to help:

-Inform an agency’s or system’s funding and quality improvement decisions.
-Monitor the behavioral health of the Nation.
-Provide a way to examine and prioritize quality prevention, treatment, and recovery measures at the payer, provider/practitioner, and patient/population levels.

The Framework is aligned with key components of the HHS National Strategy for Quality, supporting the three broad aims of better care, healthy people/healthy communities, and affordable care. These aims include the dissemination of proven interventions and accessible care—a concept that captures affordable care along with other elements of care accessibility, including the impact of health disparities.

The draft Framework measures [PDF – 624 KB] were developed with stakeholder input and continue to be a work in progress. The public is invited to review the draft Framework and provide comments.

Given the rapid developments occurring in the quality of behavioral health data, these measures will be re-assessed on an annual basis and updated as appropriate. The expectation is that any entity with the capacity to collect behavioral health data will review these measures and use those of relevance to their populations.

Read the Draft Framework [PDF – 624 KB] | Provide Your Feedback

Texas Tribune mental health policy symposium

On Monday, August 19th in San Antonio, the Texas Tribune is hosting an all-day symposium on mental health policy. We should have a strong NAMI presence at this event. Please see the following link for more info and the required RSVP. We would greatly appreciate your assistance in helping to spread the word about this event. Here is the link:

Confirmed speakers include: State Sen. LETICIA VAN DE PUTTE, D-San Antonio; state Rep. GARNET COLEMAN, D-Houston; Harris County Sheriff ADRIAN GARCIA; MICHAEL GRIFFITHS, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department; OCTAVIO MARTINEZ JR., executive director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at UT-Austin; MICHELE DEITCH, senior lecturer at UT-Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs; KATHRYN LEWIS, attorney at Disability Rights Texas; RICARDO AINSLIE, professor of educational psychology at UT-Austin; MARK CARMONA, CEO of Haven for Hope; SUSAN GARNETT, CEO of Mental Health Mental Retardation of Tarrant County; and JANET PALEO, advisory committee member of Via Hope. Full program announced soon.

Monday, August 19, 2013
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
UTSA Main Campus, Business Building, Richard Liu Auditorium
One UTSA Circle , San Antonio, TX 78249 (map) or 512-716-8641
Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 – 3 p.m.
A reservation is required. RSVP here:

Annual MHSA Stakeholder Open Forum – July 24, 2013 at Austin Convention Center

On Wednesday, July 24th from 5 – 6:30 pm, the Council for Advising and Planning (CAP) for the Prevention and Treatment of Mental and Substance Use Disorders, in conjunction with the Department of State Health Services Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division, is hosting an open forum at the Austin Convention Center.

I strongly encourage you to attend, but I realize that many of you live far away from Austin, so I want to offer to share your perspective and ask questions on your behalf. The items on the list of topics relate directly to our work at NAMI; please see the list below and forward me any questions or comments you have so that I can voice them on your behalf at the stakeholder forum. My email address is
• The future of the MHSA Service Delivery System
• The 83rd Legislative Session
• Health Care Reform
• 1115 Transformation Waiver
• Workforce Development
• Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity
• Peer Support and Recovery

Important upcoming DSHS / CAP events

Please see below for information on important upcoming DSHS / CAP meetings that you should make an effort to attend.

Stakeholder Forum: July 24, 2013 – 5 PM-6:30 PM
The Council for Advising and Planning (CAP) for the Prevention and Treatment of Mental and Substance Use Disorders, in conjunction with the Department of State Health Services Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division, is hosting a stakeholder forum on Wednesday, July 24, from 5 – 6:30 PM at the Austin Convention Center (room number to be announced). The Forum is free and open to the public. While it occurs during the annual Texas Behavioral Health Institute (, registration for the Institute is not required for attendance or participation at the Forum.

CAP Meeting: July 25, 2013 – 10 AM-3:30 PM
The CAP will meet from 10 AM – 3:30 PM Thursday, July 25, at the Austin Convention Center (room number to be announced). The meeting is open to the public. While it occurs during the annual Texas Behavioral Health Institute (, registration for the Institute is not required for attendance.