Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw uses maps and charts to present a timeline of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde during a hearing June 21 in Austin.

Texas needs to invest more in student mental health

David DeMatthews and David S. Knight

The Texas State Police Chief recently called law enforcement’s response to the May 24 killings of 19 children and 2 teachers in Uvalde an “abject failure.” Law enforcement did not act quickly, but neither did many Texas lawmakers act quickly to ensure mental health services were widely available after previous mass shootings.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw uses maps and charts to present a timeline of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde during a hearing June 21 in Austin.

After the Uvalde shooting, Governor Abbott said, “We as a state – we as a society – need to do a better job of mental health.” Yet the governor has had plenty of time to invest in mental health since taking office in 2015 and to govern through numerous mass shootings. In fact, he made similar claims about investing in mental health following the Santa Fe High School and El Paso Walmart shootings in 2018 and 2019.

In the wake of the Uvalde massacre, Texans should be concerned about where their state ranks for access to mental health. A recent report on access to mental health care highlights incomprehensible failures. Texas ranks 51st among states and the District of Columbia in access to mental health care, percentage of adults with mental illness who are uninsured, percentage of adults with cognitive impairment who cannot afford to see a doctor and young people who have experienced a major depressive episode and have not received mental health services. Amazingly, more than 255,000 Texan children with major depression did not receive mental health treatment in 2022.

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