On Tuesday, Sonja Burns — a mental health advocate who sits on the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health’s Collaborative Council — nominated Carter to be the namesake of Travis County’s probate court building.

“The naming of this building is very important for our community, and it should reflect and remind us of our vulnerable community members this court is intended to serve,” Burns said.

Burns testified Tuesday and told Travis County Commissioners Carter’s name would “impel us all to action to better serve our most vulnerable.”

Carter’s guardian, Carla Thomas, told KXAN she was in favor of naming the building after him to remind the community of people with unique needs.

“Naquan represents a community of people that have a diagnosis of mental illness and developmental disabilities,” Thomas said. “He also lost his life because people did not understand how to work with him.”

Carter was nominated for the naming of the building alongside longtime Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman and pioneering civil rights activist Ada Collins Anderson, who died last year at the age of 99.

The three names will be sent to the Travis County Historical Commission for further review and consideration.

What’s next

With the state hospital backlog at record highs, lawmakers are expected to author bills that could improve the situation in the upcoming legislative session beginning in January.

In 2021, Sen. Eckhardt crafted a bill to create an Office of Forensic Services within HHSC. That bill didn’t pass, but, she said, the state “must have” it. She said Texas needs more nurse practitioners, increased use of telehealth and Medicaid expansion.

“Both victims of crime and individuals who are seeking fair and efficient and effective mental health care, both categories of individuals would be helped massively by inexpensive expansion of Medicaid,” Eckhardt said. “I will be looking at every way I can, legislatively, to expand access to mental health care before it becomes a crisis and one must search for a mental health state hospital.”

[This story was originally published by KXAN.]

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