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Children’s Mental Health

Mental Health is an essential part of all children and young adults’ overall well-beings.

It plays a crucial role in their physical health, academic and work performance and their interaction with their community. All children and young adults are resilient and have the right to live happy and healthy lives. All deserve access to quality and effective care.
  • An estimated 15 million children in the United States are impacted by a mental health disorder [1]
  • In Texas, over 500,000 children and youth under the age of 17 are diagnosed with a serious emotional disturbance (SED) [2]
  • More than half of all chronic mental illnesses have their first onset by the age of 14 and an estimated 75% of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 24 [3]
The Texas Council leads statewide efforts to create opportunities for improving services for children and young adults by expanding sources of funding to:
  • Address local behavioral needs in the community,
  • Develop legislative and administrative recommendations related to behavioral health service provisions, and
  • Ensure that Community-based Mental Health Centers (CMHC) provide for those in need of behavioral health services.
Children’s Special Interest Group (C-SIG)

The Texas Council established a new Children’s Special Interest Group (C-SIG), comprised of members from the Community Center system, nominated and chosen for their work and personal experience with children’s mental healthcare. The purpose of the C-SIG is to identify and address policy, funding, and practice issues related to services for children’s mental health. Their current focus is on various topics and issues that impact services and supports to children, including the YES waiver, foster care, juvenile justice and First Episode Psychosis.

Click on the tabs below to learn more about the YES Waiver and First Episode Psychosis.

The Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) developed the Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Waiver, which provides comprehensive home and community-based mental health services for youth between the ages of 3 and 18, up to the 19th birthday, who have a serious emotional disturbance.

The YES Waiver provides flexible supports and specialized services to children and youth at risk of institutionalization and/or out-of-home placement due to their serious emotional disturbance and provides services aimed at keeping children and youth in their homes and communities.

First Episode Psychosis

The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is implementing a First Episode Psychosis (FEP) pilot focused on evidence-based programs designed to meet the needs of individuals with early onset psychotic disorders.

Following the RAISE model, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) delineated the following guidelines to states:

  • Funding must be dedicated to persons with early onset psychosis disorders and not used for primary prevention or preventive intervention for those at high risk of serious mental illness;
  • The population to be served via this pilot are youth/young adults, ranging in age from 15-30, with early psychotic disorders; specifically first episode psychosis;
  • Other programs/resources that address the needs of youth/young adults meeting the program criteria may be leveraged in conjunction with these pilot funds;
  • Utilization of the Evidence-based Treatment Components of Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) for First Episode Psychosis: manual/model;

Seven Centers are currently participating in the pilot:

  • Austin Travis County Integral Care
  • Bluebonnet Trails Community Services
  • Burke
  • Emergence Health Network
  • MHMR Tarrant County
  • The Center for Health Care Services
  • Tropical Texas Behavioral Health


[1] http://www.apa.org/pi/families/children-mental-health.aspx
[2] Texas Statewide Behavioral Health Strategic Plan (2017-2021)
[3] Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K. R., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(6), 593–602