Mental Health

Mental health disorders affect adults and children of all ages and backgrounds, often impacting day-to-day life. Ranging from substance use disorders to military PTSD, these struggles are not unique to a specific age group or gender. The specialists at UT Health San Antonio are working to advance mental health through innovative research, state-of-the-art facilities, and a world class team of experts.

Mental Health and Addiction Statistics

Face the Facts

Overdose is the leading cause of injury death for adults in the U.S.

More than 100,000 people in the U.S. died from opioid overdose last year

By the end of this year, over 4,000 Texans will have lost their life to a drug overdose

Addiction Medicine and Substance Use Disorders

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a mental health disorder that affects the brain and behavior, leading to the inability to control the use of substances such as legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, or medications.

Substance use can lead to changes in some of the same brain areas that are disrupted in other mental disorders such as anxiety, mood, impulse control, and schizophrenia. Overdose death is the leading cause of injury death for adults in the U.S. and recently topped more than 100,000 deaths in a single year. These numbers continued to rise during the pandemic as people were isolated and could not gain access to recovery support services. This is why we have two major efforts aimed at serving Texans in need.

Be Well Texas

Be Well Texas is one of the largest state-funded programs for Texans providing help for individuals with substance use and/or mental illness. Led by Jennifer Sharpe Potter, PhD, MPH, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Be Well Texas provides convenient access to high-quality, evidence-based treatment and related services to all people, regardless of the ability to pay. Be Well Texas is an interdisciplinary team of addiction medicine specialists, behavioral experts, and people with experience in recovery.

Jennifer Sharpe Potter, PhD, MPH

Vice President for Research
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

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Addiction Research, Treatment and Training Center of Excellence

The mission of the Addiction Research, Treatment and Training Center of Excellence (ARTT) Center of Excellence is to promote addiction research, treatment and training at UT Health San Antonio and to facilitate the translation of discoveries of basic science to clinical care.

ARTT provides a formal mechanism for bringing together a diverse group of scientists, clinicians and educators to identify and develop novel behavioral and pharmacological approaches to treating addiction.

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Opioid Substance Use

Many people have acquired substance use disorder by taking prescribed opioid pain medications for a long period of time, which can lead to substance use disorder.

Excellence in Dental Research

Although Kenneth Hargreaves, DDS, PhD, is a professor and chair of the School of Dentistry’s Department of Endodontics, he also is a professor in the departments of Pharmacology, Physiology and Surgery in the Joe and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine. His interest in pain, which is frequently a factor in dental issues involving infections of the tooth pulp, earned Hargreaves the Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Dental Research. Another research focus is regenerative medicine to save injured or infected teeth by implanting stem cells into the tooth root. Much of this research is led by Anibal Diogenes, DDS, MS, PhD.

While funded departmental research projects cover diverse topics, much of the research efforts emphasize translational and basic science research projects that evaluate mechanisms of pain. These studies are facilitated by a group of basic scientists with diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise that work together as members of the Neuropharmacology Research Group to unravel the mystery of pain

Anibal Diogenes, DDS, MS, PhD

Department of Endodontics

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Maternal Health and Substance Use Disorder

One of the most critical areas of our mental health studies, maternal health and substance use disorder can negatively impact the life of both mother and baby. The UT Health San Antonio team is dedicated to providing a non-judgmental, strengthening environment to aid in addiction recovery for parents.

Casa Mía

Casa Mía is a program of the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing that specializes in helping pregnant and parenting women recover from opioid use disorder. Founded and led by Lisa Cleveland, PhD, APRN, FAAN, one of the primary goals of the program is strengthening families by keeping mothers and babies together. It is one of only a few programs in Texas that accommodates both mother and baby and allows them to remain together as a family unit.

Lisa Cleveland, PhD, APRN, FAAN

Mary Jane Ihle Clark Professor in Caregiving

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Military PTSD

Countless current and former military personnel grapple with ongoing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, daily. The team at UT Health San Antonio is dedicated to discovering common factors associated with PTSD and finding solutions for recovery,


With a specific focus on brain health for active-duty military personnel and recently discharged veterans, STRONG STAR (South Texas Research Organizational Network and Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience) is a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research consortium funded by the U.S. departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA). STRONG STAR’s goal is to develop and evaluate the most effective early interventions for the detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related conditions.

The more than 125 researchers and clinicians working with STRONG STAR are conducting a broad array of clinical, exploratory and preclinical trials and utilizing specialized research cores to assess novel delivery methods of evidence-based PTSD treatments. Simultaneously, STRONG STAR is striving to learn more about the brain and biological factors involved in PTSD development and recovery; the influence of co-occurring physical and psychological ailments; and the interaction of cognitive-behavioral therapies and pharmacologic treatments. Ultimately, STRONG STAR is focused on reducing the suffering of our nation’s wounded warriors.


Mental and Behavioral Health Resources for Texas Children and Students

Access to childhood and adolescent mental health resources can be difficult to access for many Texas families. Several initiatives at UT Health San Antonio are making strides in making these resources more accessible. Read more about these initiatives below.

Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine

As part of the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium, UT Health San Antonio serves as the region’s coordinating and provider site for Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT), a program integrated within schools that provides mental and behavioral health care services for students.


The Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

The Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, part of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, provides care to school districts in 35 Texas counties. The team receives referrals from school districts, helping students access care more quickly than through traditional referrals to overstretched community mental health providers.

Faculty in the Long School of Medicine Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry are experienced leaders in the treatment of many psychiatric disorders that can affect young people. Offering unique evaluation, treatment and research for conditions including ADHD, bipolar and mood disorders, generalized and social anxiety, and dyslexia, experts also several mental health agencies in South Texas to provide child and adolescent psychiatry services throughout the community.

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Student-Athlete Neuropsychology Resources

UT Health San Antonio provides neuropsychology and mental health assessments as part of comprehensive care for UTSA student-athletes.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio), a primary driver for San Antonio's $44.1 billion health care and biosciences sector, is the largest academic research instituion in South Texas with an annual research portfolio of more than $360 million. Driving substantial economic impact with its six professional schools, a diverse workforce of 7,900, an annual operating budget of $1.08 billion and clinical practices that provide 2.6 million patient visits each year, UT Health San Antonio plans to add more than 1,500 higher-wage jobs over the next five years to serve San Antonio, Bexar County and South Texas.

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