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Uvalde to build new behavioral health campus dedicated to adult and youth mental health

Privacy barriers and bike racks maintain a perimeter at a memorial outside Robb Elementary School, after a video was released showing the May shooting inside the school in Uvalde on July 13, 2022.
Kaylee Greenlee Beal
Privacy barriers and bike racks maintain a perimeter at a memorial outside Robb Elementary School.

Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled on Monday a $34 million project to build a behavioral health campus in Uvalde.

The campus will provide on-site care to children and adults experiencing mental health crises in Uvalde and in the 32 counties in the region.

Funds come as part of House Bill 1 and Senate Bill 30, which were signed into law during the 88th Legislative session last year. The bills provide nearly $34 million to construct the campus and an additional $5 million for the facility’s first year of operation to support critical services.

“This new behavioral health campus will provide Texans experiencing a mental health crisis with access to mental health professionals and around-the-clock treatment to address their needs,” Abbott said in a press release.

Nineteen students and two teachers were killed during the 2022 Robb Elementary school shooting in Uvalde.

In the aftermath of the shooting, many lawmakers re-examined the state of communities' mental health, especially in rural areas across the country — often known as “mental health deserts.”

The phrase 'mental health' has been used repeatedly in politics to avoid the gun control debate. But there was a significant lack of access to mental health care in Uvalde prior to the shooting.

The city of Uvalde has donated seven acres to host the campus, which consists of two buildings on approximately 50,000 square feet.

The campus will act as a designated 24/7 diversion center and will focus on providing crisis stabilization to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. The facility will feature 32-beds: a 16-bed crisis unit for adults and a dedicated youth wing with 16 beds for children and adolescents. This includes extended observation unit (EOU) beds for patients who require additional care.

Hill County Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Center will operate the campus through a contract with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

“The regional facility will be a state-of-the-art crisis and outpatient center serving those who are most in need,” said Tod Citron, CEO of Hill County Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Center. “We are thrilled to be bringing these critically needed behavioral health care services to Uvalde.”

Walk-ins and drop-offs from law enforcement will be accepted. A second building will consist of various outpatient programs.

Construction is slated to begin this summer. The campus is expected to open in 2025.

Find more information on mental health crisis resources across the state here.

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Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter at @NormDog1