Current Children’s Mental Health Projects

Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Expansion: Texas is expanding the state’s 1915(c) Medicaid Waiver for children and youth with serious emotional disturbances who are at risk for psychiatric hospitalization. The YES Waiver utilizes a wraparound planning approach to coordinate an array of home and community based services and supports. Staff at TIEMH provide training and coaching in wraparound for YES Waiver sites and provide technical assistance for program development and implementation. Learn more about the YES Waiver.

Texas System of Care: Texas System of Care is a statewide effort to strengthen state and local coordination to ensure the availability of high quality mental health care that is family-driven, youth-guided, community-based, culturally-grounded and sustainable. Funded through a four-year grant from  the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Texas System of Care will work to implement a strategic plan developed during a planning initiative (see ASSET below). Texas System of Care is led by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the Department of State Health Services and the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health in collaboration with families, youth, advocates, providers and child-serving state agencies.  Learn More.

Bringing What Works to Youth in Corrections: Funded by the National Institute for Mental Health, this research project aims to adapt an evidence-based trauma intervention, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, for use in the state correctional system. Following adaptation through a participatory approach, the effectiveness of the adapted model will be assessed in three correctional facilities. The feasibility study will allow for testing of the screening, recruitment, and consent processes, examine the acceptability and tolerability of the treatment approach, and provide preliminary estimates of effectiveness.

Zero Suicides in Texas (ZEST): TIEMH is partnering with the Texas Department of State Health Services, Mental Health America of Texas, and Denton County MHMR on a State/Tribal Suicide Prevention Grant, funded by SAMHSA. ZEST aims to implement suicide prevention best practices within public mental health agencies, creating Suicide Safe Care Centers. Through gatekeeper training, public awareness, and coalition building, these efforts are expanded to create Suicide Safe Care Communities and a Suicide Safe Care State. Visit the ZEST website. To learn about suicide resources in Texas, visit

Revising the Recovery Self Assessment (RSA) for Youth and Caregivers: In partnership with the Department of State Health Services, staff at the Institute are revising the Recovery Self Assessment for use with children, youth and caregivers receiving mental health services. The revised instrument will be evaluated for construct validity, reliability and factor structure.

Texas Children Recovering from Trauma: In partnership with the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Bluebonnet Trails Community Services, and Heart of Texas Regional MHMR, this effort aims to enhance services for children, youth, and families who have experienced trauma. The project aims to incorporate trauma-informed practices and increase access to Trauma-Focused CBT and Parent Child Interaction Therapy, with technical assistance and support from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. The Institute serves as the Evaluator on the initiative. Click here to view the Year 1 report.

Family-Driven Planning: TIEMH, in partnership with the Department of State Health Services, is developing and pilot testing a curriculum to implement a family-driven planning approach within the public mental health system. Drawing from aspects of wraparound and person-centered planning, family-driven planning is a strength-based, collaborative strategy for the development and implementation of a family-driven and youth-guided plan of care.

Family Partner Evaluation: Family partners are individuals who are parenting or have parented a child experiencing emotional, behavioral or mental health disorders and can articulate the understanding of their experience with another parent or family member. Texas has employed family partners throughout the state and now offers training and certification through Via Hope. The Institute is charged with conducting a descriptive evaluation of the use of family partners to understand how family partners are contracted, trained, and supported locally and the primary duties that this workforce provides.

Adult Mental Health Projects

Peer Specialist Learning Community: In collaboration with Via Hope and the Texas Department of State Health Services, researchers at the Center for Social Work Research offered mental health agencies in Texas the opportunity to participate in the Peer Specialist Learning Community (PSLC). The goal of the PSLC was to ensure employment opportunities for peer specialists by helping providers understand the benefits of hiring and utilizing Certified Peer Specialists (CPSs), identify changes in recovery orientation necessary to successfully incorporate CPSs into the workplace, and acquire additional supports in order for both CPSs and providers to be successful. For more information, read the report: Peer Specialist Learning Community — Summary Report

Study of Peer Specialist Employment Satisfaction and Outcomes: The number of states providing training and certification programs for peer providers is increasing but limited research has been conducted to understand the outcomes and effectiveness of these programs and the extent to which they meet the goals of states working to develop a recovery-oriented system of care. As part of the Texas Mental Health Transformation initiative, this study examined program participant outcomes related to participants’ recovery experience, exam performance, competency attainment, involvement in the behavioral health system, and employment.

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Assessment of Consumer Operated Service Providers and Local Mental Health Authorities: In Texas, seven COSPs are funded by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) through a subcontract with the Local Mental Health Authorities (LMHAs) located in geographical proximity. In order to gain an understanding of the COSP-LMHA models, determine how COSPs could be expanded throughout the state, and identify training and technical assistance needs that would assist COSPs in developing the organizational capacity to become more self-sustaining, DSHS contracted with the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Social Work Research (UT-CSWR) to conduct an assessment of the COSPs and their associated LMHAs. For more information, read: COSP Needs Assessment Report

Consumer Operated Service Provider Institute: Consumer-Operated Service Providers (COSPs) are independent organizations operated and governed by persons in recovery. These organizations play a unique role in a recovery-oriented system of care, providing peer support and other services that are distinct from and complimentary to traditional mental health services. In an effort to strengthen the presence and impact of COSPs in Texas, staff at the Institute for Excellence in Mental Health are collaborating with Via Hope and the Texas Department of State Health Services to evaluate and provide technical assistance to participants of the COSP Institute. The COSP Institute is designed to help leaders of Texas COSPs strengthen organizational capacities, engage in sustainability planning and build alliances through training, technical assistance and intentional networking.

Peer-Provided Services and Medicaid Billing at the Local Mental Health Authorities in Texas: The Texas Department of State Health Services contracted with researchers from the Center for Social Work Research to examine peer-provided services within Local Mental Health Authorities (LMHAs), the utilization of Medicaid codes for peer-provided services, and perceived barriers and benefits associated with utilizing and hiring Certified Peer Specialists. Findings indicated that while most LMHAs in the state of Texas utilize mental health consumers as paid peer specialists, many do not bill Medicaid for peer-provided services. For more information: Medicaid Peer Billing Report

Peer Specialists Training and Certification Evaluation: To support and expand Texas’s peer workforce, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) authorized Via Hope to develop and implement a standardized peer specialist training and certification (PSTC) program beginning in federal fiscal year (FY) 2010. DSHS contracted with a team of researchers at the Center for Social Work Research at the University of Texas to evaluate the PSTC program sponsored by Via Hope. The evaluation documented stakeholder feedback on the factors related to the successful development and implementation of the Via Hope-sponsored PSTC program and explored the experience of individual PSTC participants. For more information, read: Peer Specialist Training and Certification Program — 2010 Evaluation Report Executive Summary

A Compendium of Peer Specialist Training and Certification Programs Across the Nation: The program review originated from researcher’s work evaluating Texas’ Mental Health Transformation efforts, specifically the Peer Specialist Training and Certification Program sponsored by Via Hope. In order to gain a better understanding of peer specialist training models existing around the country, staff compiled information summarizing other state-based programs. Recognizing the potential importance of this information to developers and implementers of the Peer Specialist Training and Certification Program across the United States, the information was organized into a comprehensive report. For more information, read: Peer Specialist Training and Certification Programs – A National Overview

Veterans Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery: In 2009, Texas received a Veteran’s Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop local infrastructure to divert individuals with mental health and/or substance use issues from the criminal justice system. Staff serve as lead evaluators, ensuring appropriate data collection and reporting to the federal cross-site evaluators as well as conducting a local level evaluation. Learn more.

Adult & Child Mental Health Projects

1115 Waiver Behavioral Health Projects Review: In 2012, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission accepted proposals for innovative new community programs intended to increase access to care, enhance the quality of care, or provide more cost-effective care. TIEMH reviewed all approved behavioral health projects and developed a database to describe key components. Access the report here.

Texas Behavioral Health Clearinghouse: Developed through the Mental Health Transformation initiative, this website provides key information on repositories of evidence-based practices for the promotion of behavioral health, prevention of mental health and substance abuse problems, and treatment for behavioral health disorders. Targeting both consumers and providers of services, the website also features links to valuable resources for implementing evidence based and best practices and a searchable database of agencies offering these practices within the state. Access the Clearinghouse.


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