The groundbreaking for a new psychiatric hospital located in Harris County this week shows signs the state is moving in a forward direction when it comes to addressing mental health needs for Texans.
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston began construction on a $125 million facility this week as part of what UT Health says is “a large initiative to improve behavioral health across the state.” When it begins operation in early 2022, it will be the first mental health facility to open in the county in 30 years.
Built in partnership with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the state-funded hospital will add 240 new beds dedicated to psychiatric healthcare in Harris County.
Sens. Borris Miles (D-Houston), Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) and Rep. John Zerwas (R-Richmond) were there for the groundbreaking for the building that, once completed, will make the UTHealth Continuum of Care Campus “the largest academic psychiatric hospital in the country.”
Advocates of mental health diversion programs are hopeful the hospital will take the burden of mental health off of nearby jails, where, according to the Houston Chronicle, “many consider the Harris County jail to be the state’s biggest mental health facility.”
Regarding the long-term implications of the hospital, Sen. Miles stated, “For too long, we criminalized mental health. I am excited that this $125 million investment will take us one step closer to ensuring that these individuals receive the help and treatment they need instead of going to jail.”