State creates mental health task force for Harvey-affected schools

State creates mental health task force for Harvey-affected schools

By Ed Sterling

AUSTIN — Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath on Oct. 11 announced the establishment of the Hurricane Harvey Task Force on School Mental Health Supports to deliver needed attention to schools and higher education institutions impacted by the storm.

The Texas Education Agency, acting on orders from Gov. Greg Abbott, is spearheading the effort in partnership with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas Health and Human Services Commission, in collaboration with the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. The task force will develop a list of tiered supports and resources that can be used by school leaders to address the mental health needs of affected staff, students and families.

“As I’ve traveled the state following Hurricane Harvey, it is evident that addressing the mental health needs of our students and educators is of the utmost importance,” Morath said. “This coordinated mental health response will allow our state agencies to coordinate local responses that reflect the specific needs of each individual community,” he added.

“The invisible wounds left behind after this storm are often the most difficult to recover from,” Abbott said.

Abbott, Sharp visit cities

Gov. Abbott on Oct. 11 visited the cities of Port Arthur, Mont Belvieu, Dayton, Kountze and Orange in southeast Texas during a three-day, 16-city tour of hurricane-impacted areas of the state.

Joining Abbott was John Sharp, chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, who serves as chair of the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas. Abbott has delegated executive authority to Sharp to marshal state agency resources to rebuild hurricane-damaged infrastructure, including roads, bridges, schools, government buildings and other public facilities.

Abbott and Sharp visited with mayors, legislators, county judges and other officials “to ensure they are getting all the help they need in the recovery effort,” Abbott said.

Other cities hosting gubernatorial visits included Sugar Land, Wharton, Bay City, Angleton, and Dickinson on Oct. 10 and Aransas Pass, Port Aransas, Rockport, Refugio, Port Lavaca, and Victoria on Oct. 9.

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