I say it often — the most important part of a state representative’s job is being responsive to the needs of constituents.
This can mean helping constituents navigate what can be a complex and confusing system of state services, by answering questions regarding state law, or providing information by hosting events like our Town Hall earlier this month or the utilities forum we’re hosting in May.
I want to take a moment to highlight one example of why these constituent services are so important.
I am sure by now you have heard the name Leiliana Wright. Last month, the Grand Prairie four-year old was tied up, choked and beaten to death. In the months preceding her death, attempts had been made to involve Child Protective Services (CPS) in what had become a very dangerous situation for this young child. Sadly, due in part to inaction by the state agency charged with protecting Texas children from abuse and neglect, her innocent life was cut short.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t an isolated case of a child tragically “falling through the cracks.”
“What weighs on me the most as a pediatrician is that adults with mental illness say their symptoms began in childhood and we missed most of them when they presented in front of us…More children in Texas suffer from mental illness than we would otherwise expect, which really speaks to the unfortunately hidden nature of these conditions.”
Anu Partab, MD, Pediatrician
Testimony, House Select Committee on Mental Health, March 22, 2016
Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14 and seventy-five percent by age 24.
Please take a moment and let that sink in. It is a startling statistic and one that should not be ignored.
Last week, I was in Austin for the House Select Committee on Mental Health hearing, where the focus was child and adolescent mental health. We spent several hours hearing from health care providers, educators and others on the frontline of this critical issue. It quickly became clear that while many in our state are doing great work and finding innovative ways to address this issue, there is much more that needs to be done.
I am still processing much of what was said, but my initial takeaway is this: it is critical that we improve access to care, increase early intervention and find innovative ways to address an overwhelming need. Ultimately, the more resources we bring to bear to address children’s mental health care — time, money and people — the more likely we will achieve better educational outcomes, lower rates of incarceration and keep more of our neighbors off the streets.
Please join Representative Chris Turner to share your views and discuss the critical issues impacting Arlington, Grand Prairie and the State of Texas.
If you would like more information, please call 817-459-2800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today!