The header image depicts a Texas Health and Human Services conference taking place in a large room. Participants are seated throughout the room, engaged in the event. Two projector screens are positioned on each side of the room, prominently displaying a slide that reads, "Eliminate the Wait Central Texas Regional Forum,” and the date and location of the event. In the center of the room, an individual stands at a podium, delivering a speech to the audience, and three others are seated on stage assuming a speaker role throughout the conference. This photo captures the dynamic of valuable insights and discussions related to eliminating wait times for beds in State hospitals.
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Eliminate the Wait Central Texas Regional Forum

December 29, 2022
Catherine Bialick & UT-TIEMH

More than 180 behavioral health and justice system stakeholders convene in Austin to discuss strategies to Eliminate the Wait for inpatient competency restoration services

Texas Health and Human Services Commission hosted the State’s first regional forum to Eliminate the Wait for inpatient competency restoration services.

In October 2021, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) partnered with the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health (JCMH) to launch the Eliminate the Wait campaign to focus attention on reducing, and ultimately, eliminating the wait for inpatient competency restoration services.

“Over the past year, we’ve brought training, technical assistance to law enforcement, jail administrators, courts and counties across the state,” says Associate Commissioner and State Forensic Director Dr. Jennie Simpson. “Leadership across local behavioral health and justice systems are ready for change.”

This December, HHSC partnered with JCMH, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, Sheriff’s Association of Texas, Texas Police Chiefs Association, and Texas Council of Community Centers to host a regional forum for Central Texas counties to plan for and implement improvements to local competency restoration processes.

More than 180 central Texas stakeholders representing behavioral health authorities, jails, law enforcement and the judiciary convene in Austin to discuss national, state, and local best practices in the competency restoration process; engage in stakeholder training sessions on the ETW Toolkit; and develop county-specific strategies to reduce the wait for inpatient competency restoration services.

“The criminal justice system is the repository for failed public policy. We know what works; we’re just not doing it. There is no single solution. It’s going to take a collaborative effort,” said keynote speaker Judge Steve Leifman, 11th Circuit Court of Florida. 

Counties discussed several strategies including increasing diversion of individuals with mental illness from the criminal justice system, expanding competency restoration programs including outpatient competency restoration and jail-based competency restoration, and opportunities to reduce the number of misdemeanor cases from entering the competency restoration process.

“[We must] reconsider the earliest point you believe possible to intervene,” said B.J. Wagner, Vice President of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.

For more information on Eliminate the Wait and the Central Texas Regional Forum visit the Texas Behavioral Health and Justice Technical Assistance Center Learn and Engage Page.

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