Governor Abbott Discusses Expanding Lubbock’s TWITR Mental Health Program
On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott hosted the first of three scheduled meetings regarding public school safety measures.
The meetings were scheduled after a deadly mass shooting at Santa Fe High School on Friday, May 18, claimed the lives of two teachers and eight students and injured thirteen others.
For three hours, Governor Abbott sat at a round table of state officials and school administrators to outline several ideas to improve school safety. According to the Texas Tribune, Abbott discussed the expansion of a mental health treatment program called TWITR.
The TWITR program, which stands for Telemedicine, Wellness, Intervention, Triage, and Referral, originated in Lubbock back in 2014 with the help of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
The TWITR program is widely used at schools across the South Plains according to one report, including Lubbock-Cooper ISD and Frenship ISD. Its purpose is to intervene with junior high and high school students who may be at risk for injury or harm to themselves or others.
According to their website, the TWITR Project uses psychiatrists with the TTU Health Sciences Center to help screen flagged students for alarming behavior through telemedicine, which can include a remote evaluation or diagnosis.
Students who are deemed to require psychiatric treatment are then sometimes removed from school and incorporated into the TTUHSC’s Psychiatry Clinic.
One report claims that since its inception in 2014, the program has evaluated 215 students, removed 25 of those from school due to potential dangerous behavior, placed 44 into alternative schooling, and sent 38 for hospital treatment. Ninety-four of the students were referred for anger or violence issues, 65 were refereed for suicidal thoughts, and 36 were reported to be experiencing depression.
According to the TWITR website, the program has seen a 37 percent reduction in referrals for students who have received treatment.
The round table talk on Tuesday also discussed the possibility of placing law enforcement inside schools, arming teachers, and even training parents to look for signs of a potential shooter in the making.
Governor Abbott will be holding another meeting Wednesday, reportedly focused on the subject of gun regulation, mental health solutions, and underlying causes of gun violence.