Pearland - Friendswood | February 2020


4 th ranked nationwide for prevalence of mental illness, indicating high prevalence

51 st ranked nationwide for access to mental health care, indicating lowest access

33 rd



In late 2021, Mental Health America released 2022 rankings for each state and Washington, D.C., organized based on the prevalence of mental illness and access to mental health care. For adult and youth rankings, a larger number indicates a higher prevalence of mental illness and lower rates of access to care.

ranked for adults

ranked for youth

SPIKE IN LOCAL DEMAND Both the Community Health Network and UTMB Health have seen increased demand for mental health services since the onset of the pandemic.



The health care system’s Webster psychiatry clinic saw increases in patient volume during ve of the last eight months compared to the same month in 2020.

Community Health Network provides primary care and behavioral health support to individuals in Brazoria, Galveston and Harris counties. It saw a spike in behavioral health patients across the region, including its Pearland Family Health Center location.

Patient volume

2020 2021

Almost 53% increase in the number of patient visits for behavioral health services between 2019 and 2020. About 41% increase in the number of patient visits for behavioral health services between 2020 and 2021.

35,843 patients served in 2021 versus 25,375 in 2020.

3 psychiatric providers and 6 therapy providers were hired in 2021 to meet the increased demand.










and disability authority as well as a substance use recovery provider. developmental CEO Melissa Meadows said via email the center implemented a cri- sis counseling program designed for those in need of no-cost emotional support caused by the pandemic. From October 2020 to Jan. 25, 2022, the program served 908 individual participants and 2,041 group coun- seling participants, Gulf Coast Cen- ter ocials said. The center also gave mental health rst aid courses to help participants learn to recognize when someone needs emotional support or mental health services, she said. Gulf Coast Center gave 29 trainings in Galveston County from fall 2019 to fall 2021. Meanwhile, UTMB Health has two Webster locations that provide men- tal health services. While the patient volume has remained steady during the pandemic, clinics are limited based on the number of providers and their caps on caseloads, UTMB ocials said. UTMB Health Psychiatry Webster on Texas Avenue saw about 9,900 patients from September 2019 to August 2020; that number increased nearly 20% to about 11,800 patients seen from September 2020 to August

is there. ... The providers just aren’t there.” Many people wait until they are in crisis to seek help, resulting in a need for immediate intervention, and behavioral therapy is best pro- vided in person, Meadows said. The increased stress and vulnerability people are feeling have led to higher incidents of crisis, she said. According to Meadows and Gal- veston County Health District CEO Philip Keiser, the county has seen a rise in opiate-associated deaths and substance use during COVID-19. Keiser emphasized substance use disorder clinics are needed nowmore than ever, and existing clinics can barely meet current needs. For those seeking mental health treatment, waitlists are long, Keiser added. “If people have mental health issues, there are very few options for them if they don’t have money and insurance,” he said. “Quite frankly, there’s not a lot of options for people even if they do.” Kristi Ottis, clinical therapist and CEO of Friendswood Counseling Center, said the waitlist at her center reached an all-time high in late 2021. Ottis said she frequentlymust refer new patients requesting services to other centers when the Friendswood

2021, according to UTMB data. While the introduction of tele- health has opened doors in terms of access, the demand is greatly outpacing the number of providers available for counseling, said Je Temple, a professor and licensed psychologist at UTMB. “There’s only so many hours and only so many people that an individ- ual [provider] can see,” Temple said. “The increased access has helped, but the demand is so great that it still is leaving people lacking.” COVID19 stressors The pandemic’s uncertainty com- bined with other major events, such as the February freeze, has created conditions that many are unable to cope with on their own, Temple said. He and Dwight Wolf, medical direc- tor for UTMB Health’s psychiatry and behavioral services outpatient clinic, said anxiety and depression among area patients have dramatically increased throughout COVID-19. Burnout is a real possibility for pro- viders as they try to tackle patients’ varying needs, whether remotely or in an oce, Temple said. “I could hire 10 psychologists, and they’d probably be full in a couple of months,” Temple said. “The demand


in Houston and Texas proper were already inferior to many other states prior to the pandemic,” said Dr. Jon Stevens, vice president of growth and innovation for The Menninger Clinic, a Houston psychiatric facil- ity. “Although the true psychological eects may not be known for years and perhaps generations for many, this has been the most challenging event of a lifetime.” Mental health centers in Brazoria and Galveston counties said COVID-19 has exacerbated the anx- iety and depression already present among residents as well as put even more strain on already understaed clinics. Telehealth has improved access for some patients, and provid- ers point to group support as a poten- tial path forward for those hoping to improve their mental well-being. Skyrocketing demand Across the Pearland and Friend- swood area, mental health providers and experts said the pandemic has underscored the need for more ser- vices as demand climbs. In Galveston and Brazoria coun- ties, the Gulf Coast Center serves as the local mental health, intellectual



Powered by