A Texas Bill would Ease the Pressure caused by a Shortage of Psychiatrists

Texas has a shortage of psychiatrists -- and they're the only mental health workers who can prescribe drugs. A bill in the Legislature aims to change that.

Lubbock republican Dustin Burrows says he learned about the need during CPS and prison investigations.

"We found situations where there wasn't the psychiatric treatment available, whether it was inmates or whether it was some of our children, and there's a real need out there for more ability to actually help stabilize and prescribe prescriptions."

Burrows says four other states and the U.S. military allow psychologists to prescribe drugs. He says if there is opposition to the idea, it'll come out during public hearings.

"I've continued to ask for examples of where the other four states and the U.S. military -- where this has been unsafe -- and I haven't been given one, of course that's what committee hearings are for; hopefully we can get a hearing on this bill and if there are any real safety concerns we'll get specifics about it."

Psychologist Dr. Mary Alvord says she, personally, doesn't need the option to prescribe drugs, but there is a nationwide shortage of psychiatrists -- particularly in rural areas.

"There's just not sufficient numbers of psychiatrists -- and particularly child and adolescent psychiatrists, they're even harder to get access to."

Under the bill, psychologists who would be allowed to prescribe drugs would have to undergo special training.

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