Brazos Valley mom speaking up about shortage of mental health resources

BRENHAM, Tex. (KBTX) - Across Texas and the nation, there is a shortage of mental health resources. Every county in the Brazos Valley is considered a mental health shortage area.

Marissa Dyer is a mom in Brenham, she knows how hard it is to find the necessary resources. Last year, her 13-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a number of mental health issues.

"Borderline personality disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and major depression with psychotic features which means she hallucinates she hears and sees what we don't," said Dyer.

Dyer says her daughter harms herself, which means they've had to lock up everything in their house.

"There's no forks, butter knives, knives, there's no razors, potato peelers, the weirdest things you would think to get rid of we have locked it all up along with all of the medication everything down to Tylenol," said Dyer.

The hardest part has been finding the help they need. Since October Marissa's daughter has been admitted eight times.

"It's a lack of options because Rock Prairie is the only one that's kind of close for children, and it's a lack of providers because if you look up a list of providers for every adolescence facility I find I can find 15 or 20 that can take adults," said Dyer.

"What we experience globally in terms of shortages is even harder on our kids," said Dr. Carly McCord, a professor at Texas A&M and director of Telebehavioral Health at the College of Medicine.

Dr. McCord says Texas has a long way to go in terms of mental health funding.

"We're 49th in mental health spending and Texas has the most residents living in mental health shortage areas, so we have about 10 million Texans living in those shortage areas," said McCord.

Often, primary care doctors wind up on the front lines- helping treat mental health issues.

When a family doctor knows your family and they know your kids and then all of sudden there's a change in their demeanor when they come in sometimes that's one of the first signs you can see is that teenager is more withdrawn than normal," said Dr. Kathryn Griner at Baylor Scott and White.

Dr. Griner says because of long wait times for psychiatrists and counselors family doctors have been adding continuing education courses in that area.

Dyer says her daughter needs DTB therapy.

"I can't find anybody, I found someone in Katy, but I can't afford to drive to Katy and home every single day," said Dyer.

The costs also add up quickly.

"These places cost upwards of $3,500 a day. One insurance does not cover it all. Her medication cost me 150 dollars on a good month," said Dyer.

There is currently legislation being reviewed this session to provide additional funding for mental health. It's specifically targeting psychiatry, telehealth, and funding for kids.

Here are a number of mental health resources:

-Texas A&M Telehealth Counseling Clinic or call 979-436-0700
-7 Cups
-Crisis text line at 741-741
-National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255