In 1967 House Bill 3 passed the Texas Legislature, creating the community mental health and intellectual and developmental disability system. The Bill mandated a continuum of services for individuals with mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities and allowed for effective alternatives to treatment in state facilities. Thus, through House Bill 3, the citizens of Texas now had the opportunity to receive treatment services in their home community. Tropical Texas Behavioral Health (originally called Hidalgo County Mental Health & Mental Retardation Center and then Tropical Texas Center for Mental Health & Mental Retardation) had the distinct honor of being one of the first community mental health and intellectual and developmental disability centers in the State of Texas to be established under House Bill 3.
The Center began as a small operation. Services commenced in the basement of Grandview Hospital in Edinburg. The Center opened with limited staff and a small array of services, but everyone shared a vision. It was a vision of hope, hope of effective treatment and the reality of recovery.
With that vision in mind, in the summer of 1967, with only six staff members and an enormous agenda for the citizens of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, the Center opened its doors and began the provision of services. Due to limited resources, the first few years of operation proved to be a struggle for the Center. Staff worked hard to provide services to the community and to meet consumer needs. By the third year of operation, things started to change and improve.
A great growth and expansion occurred. Staff was increased and the Center began to develop new programs: five training and development units for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, a volunteer program, counseling and group sessions on marital problems and the Rio Grande Valley helpline program. In addition, the Center also helped cities and school districts throughout the Valley to develop and implement special education classes and supportive units for emotionally disturbed children.
Consumer caseloads continued to increase, expanding to meet the demand for services. The Center's small operation evolved into a comprehensive array of mental health and intellectual and developmental disability services provided throughout Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy Counties.
The Center's vision continued to be realized through the growth and expansion of services and programs. Throughout the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s other services were provided through a multitude of special purpose facilities established throughout the Valley, they included: vocational services, skills-training programs, case management programs, liaison programs, early childhood intervention programs and supervised living programs.
In 1990 the Center moved into the new decade with the ground breaking of a new main facility in Edinburg. The doors opened in September of 1992, continuing the vision of effective treatment and the reality of recovery for the citizens of the lower Rio Grande Valley.
In 2008, the Center applied for an international accreditation survey from the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) International. The following programs received the highest accreditation possible, a three-year accreditation: Assertive Community Treatment: Mental Health (Adults); Outpatient Treatment: Mental Health (Adults); Outpatient Treatment: Mental Health (Children and Adolescents); and Residential Treatment: Integrated DD/Mental Health (Adults). During the 2011 CARF survey, the Center repeated the highest accreditation level and added the following programs to their accreditation list: Case Management (MH) and Crisis Services. In August of 2014 the Center underwent their third CARF Survey, applying the Governance Standards for the first time. The Center services listed above received another three-year accreditation.
Today Tropical Texas Behavioral Health continues to be dedicated to providing person-centered mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities and substance use disorder services for individuals of Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy Counties. The Center, with the assistance of their community partners, is a leader in the State and Nation in implementing new and innovative programs.