HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Hays County will welcome a specialized response team to support at-risk youth.

According to a press release by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, the new Multisystemic Therapy (MST) team is a family and community-based treatment for at-risk youth from 12 to 17 years old.

“It has proven most effective for treating youth who have committed or are at risk of committing violent offenses, have serious mental health or substance abuse concerns, are at risk of out-of-home placement, and have experienced abuse and neglect,” the release read.

The team is funded through part of the state’s $105.5 million response to the Uvalde school shooting.

$4.7 million was included to fund seven new MST teams across the state.

The seven new MST teams include:

  • Hill Country MHDD (Uvalde, Comal, Hays Counties)
  • Bluebonnet Trails Community Services (Guadalupe, Caldwell and Gonzalez Counties)
  • Denton MHMR (Denton County)
  • LifePath Systems (Collin County)
  • North Texas Behavioral Health Authority (Ellis County)
  • Star Care Specialty Care (Lubbock County)
  • Tropical Texas Behavioral Health (Hidalgo County)

“The program is a collaborative effort between the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and the Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (MHDD) Centers,” the release said.

Who makes up the MST team?

Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute states the MST program includes specially trained therapists.

They provide intensive treatment, usually in the home, for three to five months.

“Treatment and recovery can happen in the community and the home,” said Melissa Ramirez, the Director of Children’s Services with Hill Country MHDD.

Ramirez said therapy is provided not in a center but in the home.

“Team members remain on-call and available 24 hours a day and help the young person develop necessary skills to cope with family, school, and neighborhood stressors, with structured supervision and quality assurances to ensure progress is being made and maintained,” the release read.

The teams consist of:

  • One supervisor
  • Three or four therapists

“When Uvalde happened, we knew Texas had to do more to reach at-risk youth. State leadership took immediate steps to invest in much-needed mental health and school safety initiatives, recognizing the importance of early intervention and evidence-based programs,” said Andy Keller, President and CEO of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.

More funding on the way

The seven new teams bring the state to 14 MST teams.

But, more are on the way.

“The 88th Legislature recently appropriated a total of $32.45 million to maintain and expand MST capacity by an estimated 15 additional teams starting later this year,” the release read.

Helping school districts

Ramirez said they’ll work with school districts to get referrals.

“Our therapists are engaging with probation officers with the court system, with DFPS, CPS, with schools,” Ramirez said.

It’s an additional resource Hays CISD said the district needs specifically when addressing substance abuse.

Six of their students died from Fentanyl last school school year with dozens of others coming forward asking for help.

“Every place, it seemed like they were either full and not taking new patients, or if they were taking new patients, there might be a 90 day 120 day wait,” said Hays CISD Spokesperson Tim Savoy.

So as the therapists gear up to meet with clients soon, Hays CISD is left with peace of mind heading into the school year.

“Every tool that’s available is going to help,” Savoy said.