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In The Network

April 21, 2021

87th Legislature Update
Advocacy through policy is a prime avenue for making meaningful social change, especially in the world of behavioral health. Anyone and everyone should engage in advocacy for causes they care about! 

The 87th Texas Legislative Session began on January 12, 2021. Since that time, numerous bills have been filed (7,068, to be exact) and are beginning to reach the phase of the bill process where they are voted on or against. NBHP has been working with its partners and has provided verbal and written testimony on several pieces of legislation. And thanks to the more than 100 e-mails sent to legislators through NBHP’s Action AlertsTHREE of our priority bills already have been voted out of the Texas House of Representatives! These bills include: 


HB 4, which would require the Texas Health & Human Services Commission to ensure reimbursement for telehealth services, including audio-only services for behavioral health services, through Medicaid and other programs under its jurisdiction. Requiring reimbursement for telehealth services ensures continued access to these important services that have been gained during the pandemic due to Governor Abbott’s emergency rules. Reimbursement for audio-only behavioral health services also will ensure a solution for the numerous Texans who do not have access to high-speed Internet broadband. 
 
HB 133, which would require the Texas Health & Human Services Commission to extend healthcare coverage under the Texas Medicaid program for pregnant women and new mothers up to 12-months postpartum. HB 133 would help provide healthcare coverage to vulnerable pregnant women and new mothers who are often going through extremely tumultuous life circumstances during the early stages of delivering a child. 
 
HB 707, which would require the Texas Health & Human Services Commission to conduct a study regarding the expansion of recovery housing across the state.  Recovery housing options are necessary for the treatment and successful long-term recovery of individuals recovering from a substance use disorder. Recovery housing also helps address the issue of increased homelessness and jail populations for individuals with behavioral health issues.
 
Please stay tuned for updates from us as we will continue to need your help engaging in Advocacy Alerts for these bills! Our Advocacy Alerts are form emails which will send an auto-populated message to your state legislators, populated by the address you input, urging them to support these important bills. This process takes less than a minute, and it makes a huge difference in moving these bills along! 
     
     
Behavioral Health Workforce Survey Results
NBHP will be kicking off a new initiative to address the local behavioral health workforce shortage and launched a survey to determine the barriers and gaps to educational completion and employment for current professionals. Thanks to those of you who shared your experiences, we received over 250 responses!

Key findings from the survey included: 1) Almost 40% of professionals indicated that an educational opportunity promoting behavioral health was the reason they entered the field, second only to having a family member or friend affected by a behavioral health issue; 2) Over half of respondents had field placements of more than 500 hours, and 80% received no payment or stipend for the placement; 3) The most common barrier to educational and/or licensure completion was financial; 4) More than half of respondents were unaware of the salary range for their selected field prior to entering their program of study; and 5) Over 2/3 stated they had absolutely no problems or barriers finding employment within their selected licensure/training, though almost 60% said it was difficult to find an entry level job that paid a living wage.

Those who completed the survey were eligible to win one of three $100 Amazon gift cards. The virtual drawing took place last Friday, April 16, 2021 and NBHP is happy to announce the gift card winners:
  • Vandana Varma, M.D.
  • Brandon Wheeler, LMFT
  • Erica Gallardo, LPC
Congratulations to you all!

To watch the virtual drawing, visit:
 NBHP Virtual Drawing Facebook Live 

 
Member Spotlight
NBHP is excited to highlight the work of SEARCH Homeless Services for April's Member Spotlight. SEARCH's mission is to provide hope, create opportunity, and transform the lives of men, women and children trying to break free from the cycle of poverty and homelessness. Today, SEARCH fulfills a vital and unique community role by offering subject-matter expertise and serving 3,182 people who are homeless at the system level by providing skilled case management and support to the individuals and families experiencing homelessness. SEARCH's programs and services focus on guiding behavioral change through their core service areas: 
  • Engagement & Stabilization – includes the Engagement Center, Street Outreach (including housing assessments to determine housing needs and make appropriate housing matches), Housing Navigation (helping clients navigate the complex process into housing), PATH (access to mental health services), and SOAR (access to disability benefits/Medicaid); 
  • Housing – ongoing supportive services for housed clients to help them maintain their housing and improve their quality of life, including their self-sufficiency;
  • Education – SEARCH’s House of Tiny Treasures provides vital early childhood education and therapeutic services to children who have experienced homelessness;
  • Family First – SEARCH’s newest division to provide homeless families with supports to strengthen and stabilize their lives.
To learn more about SEARCH and their service areas, you can visit their site at: https://www.searchhomeless.org.
National Minority Health Month
April is National Minority Health Month (NMHM), and NBHP joins partnering agencies to bring awareness about the importance of health disparities in minority communities. As recognized by the HHS Office of Minority Health, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on racial and ethnic minorities and has shed a greater light on the needs of vulnerable communities.

This year's NMHM theme is #VaccineReady. The COVID-19 vaccination is essential to ensuring the continued safety and health of communities as they return to the workplaces, gather with family members, and resume with the new normal and prevent the spread of COVID-19. 
Member Announcements
Check out announcements and upcoming virtual connections from our member organizations:

Catholic Charities
Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance
Member organization Catholic Charities, in addition to BakerRipley, are administering the county's Emergency Rental Assistance program. The tenant application portal is open, for more information, visit: Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance.

Family Houston
Virtual Mental Health Resources
Resources include articles, videos, and interviews on important topics in English and Spanish. Access a collection of mental health resources from Family Houston by clicking on the link

Mental Health America of Greater Houston 
Behavioral Health Breakthrough Series Collaboration
Expiration date to sign up: May 15, 2021
MHA of Greater Houston is recruiting practices for their Integrated Behavioral Health Breakthrough Series Collaborative. Applications are open until May 15th. 
To learn more, click on: Behavioral Health Breakthrough Series

The Council on Recovery
Hope Ripples Out: The Council's 75th Anniversary
Join The Council On Recovery as they celebrate the retirement of their President and CEO
Mel Taylor and his 28 years of service. 
Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021 from 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
For more information, visit: The Council on Recovery 75th Anniversary


The Harris Center
Strategic Plan Stakeholder Survey
The Harris Center is asking stakeholders for feedback and input as they begin their Strategic Planning.  If you would like to participate, please follow the survey link: Strategic Plan Stakeholder Survey
NBHP Learning Corner
 
Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute Regulatory Change Newsletter
Please take a look at the newest MMHPI Regulatory & Reimbursement newsletter that provides a summary of state and federal regulatory changes: You can access it here
: https://mmhpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/COVIDNewsletter51.pdf

A trusted Space: Redirecting Grief to Growth Screening & Panel:
Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute will be hosting a free virtual screening and panel discussion of A Trusted Space: Redirecting Grief to Growth on Monday, May 3, 2021 from 4-5:30 p.m. CT. To register, visit: https://mmhpi.org/event/a-trusted-space-screening-panel/.
ABOUT NBHP
For a list of our members, please visit: Members. If you are a behavioral health provider interested in joining NBHP, please visit Membership  for more information.
NBHP Contact Information

Andrea Usanga
Executive Director
Email: ausanga@nbhp.org
Phone: 713-970-7046


Sineria Ordóñez 
Project Manager
Email: sordonez@nbhp.org
Phone: 713-970-3410


Alexis Campbell 
C3 Project Manager
Email: acampbell@nbhp.org
Phone: 713-970-3910 

Sydney Carter
Mental Health Policy Fellow
Email: scarter@nbhp.org 
Phone: 713-970-7061 
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The purpose of the Network of Behavioral Health Providers is to provide a forum for the leadership of Houston’s mental health and substance use providers, both public and private, to communicate, coordinate, and collaborate to improve the community’s behavioral health system. The mission of the Network of Behavioral Health Providers, 

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