Public Comment — Establishment of a Mental Health Commission

Public Policy Input — 2018

TCDD letterhead May 2017

Public Comment
Joint Public Hearing by the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals
on Establishment of a Mental Health Commission
January 11, 2018

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments related to the establishment of a Mental Health Commission.

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) is established by state and federal law to encourage policy change so that people with disabilities have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives. TCDD is governed by 27 Governor-appointed board members, 60% of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities or family members of individuals with disabilities.

TCDD supports the following recommendation contained in the Texas Judicial Council Mental Health Committee Report and Recommendations, October 2016:

Expand the scope of the Mental Health Committee, or any future commission studying mental health issues, to focus on individuals with an intellectual disability and examine the intersection of the justice system with these individuals to promote effective practices in the administration of justice when individuals with an intellectual disability are justice-involved.

While those with intellectual disabilities comprise 2% to 3% of the general population, they represent 4% to 10% of the prison population, with an even greater percentage in juvenile facilities and jails. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are also three-to-four times more likely than the general population to experience a mental health disorder. Despite greater prevalence and risk, Texans with IDD who have a co-occurring mental health disorder face specific barriers related to a lack of coordination and collaboration across service systems, as well as gaps in research, clinical expertise, and access to appropriate programs. In addition, services are often organized as mental illnesses or developmental disabilities — but not both.

It is time that agencies coordinate efforts to address the mental health needs of individuals with IDD in Texas. This coordination should look past historic practices and existing organizational structure and develop new expectations that Texans with IDD have the same right as any other population to timely, appropriate, and adequate care and mental health treatment.

Please feel free to contact TCDD for additional information or if we can be of additional service.

Beth Stalvey, MPH, PhD
Executive Director, Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities

Criminal Justice Position Statement webpage
Criminal Justice Issue Brief webpage