Advocates from the AFSP Join with Mental Health Groups to Urge Texas Lawmakers to Expand the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Workforce

Contact: Alexis O’Brien, AFSP PR Director, 347-836-2577 or [email protected]

Austin, TX (February 19, 2015) – Each year in the United States, suicide claims over 40,000 lives – more than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. On average, one person dies by suicide every three hours in Texas. So on Thursday, February 19, 2015, volunteers from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the largest suicide prevention organization in the United States, will join the Mental Illness Awareness Coalition and fellow Texas Coalition for Healthy Minds members to visit with lawmakers and urge them to expand the mental health and substance use disorder workforce in Texas.

“Strategies to address workforce shortages are well researched. These proven best practices to grow the workforce have been developed in Texas and need to be fully implemented,” said Nicole Gibson, senior manager of state advocacy for AFSP. “One of the best ways to prevent suicide is by understanding and treating mental health and substance use disorders. We must ensure that the mental health and substance use disorder workforce is meeting the needs of all Texans, including those living in underserved areas.”

In 2013, almost a quarter of all Texans lived in 199 counties with mental health workforce shortages.  An insufficient workforce creates barriers to care for all Texans, regardless of payer source. Investments in mental health require an adequate provider network in order to be fully realized.

Suicide in Texas

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-34 in Texas, and the fourth leading cause of death for people aged 35-44. Suicide cost Texas a total of $3,516,245,000 of combined lifetime medical and work loss cost in 2010, or an average of $1,216,273 per suicide death. Over twice as many people die by suicide in Texas annually than by homicide.

Three chapters from AFSP will be attending the state advocacy day including AFSP-Central Texas, AFSP-Greater Houston Area, and AFSP-North Texas. AFSP’s Texas advocacy volunteers build relationships with public officials and advocate on behalf of sound suicide prevention policy in Texas.

The Mental Illness Awareness Coalition hosting this day of advocacy, founded in 1995, includes: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance of Texas, Mental Health America of Texas, NAMI Texas and the Federation of Texas Psychiatry (including the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians, the Texas Academy of Psychiatry and the Texas Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry).

AFSP is a member of the Texas Coalition for Healthy Minds, a coalition of organizations with a primary focus on mental health and/or substance use disorder. Members of the coalition include: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Association of Substance Abuse Programs, Austin Clubhouse, Center for Public Policy Priorities, Clarity Child Guidance Center, Communities for Recovery, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Texas G.O., Easter Seals Central Texas, Federation of Texas Psychiatry, Mental Health America of Texas, Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South, Texas, Inc., National Alliance for Mental Illness Austin, National Alliance for Mental Illness Texas, National Association of Social Workers, Texas Chapter, Texans Care for Children, Texas Council of Community Centers, Texas Counseling Association, Texas Hospital Association, Texas Impact, Texas Nurses Association, Texas Pediatric Society, Texas Psychological Association, Texas Suicide Prevention Council.

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