POTTER COUNTY, Texas — As we enter 2023, Potter County in the Texas panhandle is facing the same growing problem as many other communities in the Lone Star state: a lack of mental health services.
Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner holds mental health hearings for 25 of the 26 counties in the Panhandle, so she sees the issue first-hand on a weekly basis.
And she says the problem starts with the fact that Amarillo, the county seat, has no mental health hospital of its own, instead sending patients more than 200 miles – nearly four hours – to the south.
“The patients that I order to the state hospital go all the way down to Wichita Falls and most of the time they’re full,” Judge Tanner told us on Inside Texas Politics. “And so, they’re just left here and then they just finally let them go. And they come back a month later, and we do everything all over again.”
Judge Tanner, Potter County’s first female Judge and who was just re-elected to a third term, says she’s asked the state for help and has had ongoing discussions with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and state Senator Kevin Sparks.
“There’s a really, really good chance that I’m going to get a hospital up here,” she said. “We have sheriff’s deputies and constables that take these patients down and they’re gone, that’s a whole day that they lose from here taking patents down there.”
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