Texas lawmakers approve $40 million for Permian mental health facility

As the Texas Legislature’s third special session came to a close, lawmakers approved millions of federal funds towards building a new facility between Midland and Odessa dedicated to mental and behavioral health.

(Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / Texas Tribune)

By Mitch Borden 

As the final hours of the Texas Legislature came to a close early Tuesday, state lawmakers approved a spending package that included $40 million for a new mental health hospital that’s set to be built between Midland and Odessa.

Senate Bill 8, which Gov. Abbott still needs to sign into law, would disperse funds sent to the state by the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 — the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill aimed at helping communities recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Midland Rep. Tom Craddick and Odessa Rep. Brooks Landgraf worked together to ensure the funds for a facility were included in the final version of the spending package.

In a statement, Landgraf wrote, “I’m thankful we were able to get this done for our region that desperately needs better access to mental health services.”

And the need for therapy — along with other behavioral health services — is widespread across West Texas, according to a top medical official in Midland. 

“We are far short of meeting the needs of our community for behavioral health services of all kinds,” explained Russell Meyers, CEO of Midland Memorial Hospital. “Everything from entry-level counseling for people with anxiety or depression through inpatient care if it’s needed.”

According to Meyers, the 100-bed facility will have resources for people of all ages and will address many of the mental health needs of residents in the Permian Basin.

The facility is expected to be built by 2024, according to Landgraf, and will be jointly operated by Midland and Odessa’s hospital districts. 

Currently, a final location for the facility has not been chosen but that will be one of the next steps.

Meyers said receiving $40 million from the state for the project is a victory, but it is likely the state funding will not cover the entire cost of the behavioral health facility. Even though Meyers couldn’t say how much the project will end up costing, he believes the Midland-Odessa philanthropic community will step up to foot much of the outstanding bill. 

“We’ve been building support for a mental health initiative for a number of years now so I will be optimistic about our ability to raise the funds,” he explained.

About Mitch Borden

Mitch Borden is Marfa Public Radio's Permian Basin Reporter. If you have any questions about West Texas' energy industry or the Permian Basin email him at mitch@marfapublicradio.org.
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