SAN MARCOS, Texas — The Hays County Commissioners Court recently approved the creation of a behavioral health coordinator position within the Hays County Health Department. The is the first position created by the county to address mental health and substance abuse outside of the criminal justice system.
“The Behavioral Health Coordinator will form the behavioral health program for Hays County,” said Matthew Gonzales, Health Department manager. “This position will address mental health disparities that can exist in the places where we live, work, learn and play. It will develop a roadmap for how the county address mental health in the future.”
The position was created as a result of multiple efforts aligning. The Hays County Behavioral Advisory Team (BAT), which Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe and Precinct 4 Commissioner Walt Smith serve on, set a priority to create a program or office within the county that would be responsible for identifying and coordinating mental health resources available in the county.
During the 2023 budget cycle, Precinct 2 Commissioner Dr. Michelle Cohen and Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell expressed interest in the development of a county position that would address mental health. The end of the budget process kicked off work toward finding the funding that would create and define this position.
“Our county has seen disparities in mental health and substance use for quite a while,” said Cohen. “I trust the work the department has begun and will continue to do toward addressing mental health.”
The Hays County Commissioners Court believed that this position would fit best in the health department. The department was established to address the health needs of the county and mental health is just one component of an individual’s overall health and wellbeing.
“The growth of our department has been tremendous,” said Tammy Crumley, Health Department director. “We are grateful for the support of the court, which allows our services to expand to better serve our Hays County residents.”
Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra added, “In recognizing the critical need for mental health and substance abuse services, we are committed to nurturing a community where compassion leads the way to healing and support. This new behavioral health coordinator position signifies our dedication to not just addressing, but understanding and empathizing with the struggles faced by our residents. We are not just creating a program; we are fostering a promise to our community that no one has to face their challenges alone.”
The Hays County Health Department provides many services to the community, including immunizations, tuberculosis treatment, disease tracking and more. The Health Department clinic is open 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Wednesday hours are 8 to 10 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. The clinic is open on Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.
For more information on the Hays County Health Department, visit hayscountytx.com/departments/local-health-department/.