NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Burke, the largest mental health service for 12 Deep East Texas counties, celebrated a future expansion in Nacogdoches.
A new mental health clinic is under construction. The tangible evidence of increased state and federal funding is something relatively new for Burk.
Mental health services are emerging from obscurity to a state of openness.
As dirt is moved for a new mental health clinic in Nacogdoches, Burke CEO Susan Rushing is reminded of an extreme problem that happened, not so long ago.
"It's been five or six years ago that Burke was running a waiting list of people who really needed our help," Rushing said.
In a legislative brief, Burke states all East Texans in need deserve quality mental health services.
"We're going to be providing outpatient, counseling and psychiatric services," Rushing said. And we hope to open a primary care clinic."
Jails filling up with the mentally ill influenced increased state and federal funding for mental health services. Still, Texas ranks at the bottom of states in mental health funding, according to the Texas Hospital Association. Legislators know this.
"This problem doesn't get solved," said State Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches. "It' gets managed. And it's gonna take money to do it."
It also takes a change in attitude. Burke Board Chairman Howard Daniel Jr. has an adult daughter with a disability. He's nothing but proud.
"It has evolved from the point that we used to hide them and be ashamed of them to the point that we want to put them on center stage," Daniel said. "They are very, very important."
Even Burke's new location at a busy North University corner exhibits change, purposely by its property management services.
"It used to be in the shadows," said Hall Henderson, the owner of East Texas Behavioral Resources Inc. You wanted to keep it back and make it hard to find. We don't want to be that anymore. We want to be accessible. We want to be right here where everybody can see you."
It's not to say that the current Nacogdoches Burke facility will go away. There are proposed plans for this place, and one of them may include Stephen F. Austin State University.
"If we can find ways to partner there to allow the university to have access to facilities like Burke and for Burke to have access to students like those coming out of Stephen F. Austin, then we would like to do that," Henderson said.
So, a simple groundbreaking is the start of offering numerous opportunities in mental health care delivery services.
The projected completion of the $4.5 million, 32-thousand-square-foot building is expected in January of 2019.
For more information on the services offered by Burke, click this link.