AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 18 into law earlier this summer; a comprehensive mental health bill that will direct resources toward our public education system and students.
It was filed by Representative Four Price, who has worked closely with Amarillo Independent School District for years.
“AISD already has quite a few programs in place addressing mental health.
This includes training many teachers in the district on ACES, which stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences, that helps teachers understand what trauma looks like in the classroom.
One of the requirements of the bill, states that if a school has a physical health class, they must start to include mental health as part of the curriculum as well.
AISD’s Director of Counseling Tracey Mormon tells me they already implement some of that in their Worth the Wait program and Social and Emotional Learning.
Mormon says she’s grateful to have been able to work with representative price as he worked on these bills.
Rep. Price says, “We actually really want to reduce the stigma associated with mental health, and everybody knows and all the research indicates that behavioral health issues, including substance abuse, is very manageable if diagnosed early.”
In fact, he says most mental health issues manifest before the age of 14, so trying to help at an early age can prevent long-term issues.
When the new bill becomes law, Mormon says she will be looking to bring on another non-physician counselor.
She says they’re also working to further their ACES program, making their counselors master trainers, who can then, in turn, train the entire community.
The bill will also require school districts to partner with a local mental health institute if they haven’t already. AISD is partnered with Texas Panhandle Centers.