Want Mental Health Treatment In Houston? Go To The Harris County Jail


The largest mental health facility in Texas is Houston’s Harris County Jail, reports the Texas Observer. Of the 9,000 inmates, more than a quarter take medication for mental illness, meaning that many days, this jail treats more psychiatric patients than all 10 of Texas' state-run public mental hospitals combined. Most of those patients live in the general population and get their psychotropic drugs alongside inmates taking blood thinners or insulin.

Some stay in the Mental Health Unit, an award-winning program that functions as a full psychiatric hospital within the jail. The unit can treat almost 250 inmates at a time for serious mental illnesses. All receive medication; some attend therapy and visit with caseworkers who help them plan for life after release. Many leave the jail more stable and connected to social services than when they came in. Outside the jail, Houstonians with mental illness often can't find those kinds of services. Harris County has one of the most underfunded public mental health systems in a state that consistently ranks last, or almost last, in per capita mental health spending.

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