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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Commissioners Court recognizes Air Quality Awareness Week, proclaims Mental Health Awareness Month

Star file photo

During its May 7 meeting, the Hays County Commissioners Court adopted a proclamation recognizing May 6-10 as Air Quality Awareness Week.

The recognition is due to air quality being moderately worse in 2023 than in previous years, according to the Air Quality Index for the Austin, Round Rock and San Marcos Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

According to the proclamation, in 2023 carbon monoxide in the air of the AustinRound RockSan Marcos area exceeded the federal standard of 9 parts per million on more than 50% of the days in that year.

The proclamation also stated Hays County “encourages residents to take action to… educate themselves about local air quality… by promoting air quality awareness within our community.”

Commissioner Michelle Cohen said residents should be educated on ways to improve air quality to help the greater good of the county.

“I brought this proclamation forward to remind everyone that air quality is a real thing and this aligns perfectly with the beginning of ozone season, wildfire season and World Asthma Day [on May 2],” Cohen said. “I want everyone to think about ways you can improve our air and bring awareness to everyone about air quality.”

Judge Ruben Becerra said Hays County is slated to become the next metroplex with its current growth rate. If that is the case, he said residents should be even more mindful of air quality and pollution from idling.

The court also proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness Month.

The proclamation discussed the SMTX Mental Health CoalitionHealthy Hays Coalition and the Cour Four Partnership of San Marcos, Hays County, San Marcos Independent School District and Texas State University involved in combating mental health.

“The Core Four Partnership… community partners and care providers collaborate to reduce stigma, to provide education and awareness of prevention, early intervention and treatment resources for mental health,” the proclamation stated.

Becerra said it is important to remember the impacts COVID-19 had on mental health in 2020. He spoke about his experience losing his first cousin and three aunts due to COVID-19 and the effects it had on his mental health.

“Mental health is such a big deal and COVID-19 taught us just how vulnerable we all are, just how we need one another in ways we would have never imagined,” Becerra said.

Hays County Mental Health Court Judge Elaine Brown conducted a presentation on the work at the Mental Health Court and the prevalence of mental illness in the Hays County criminal justice system.

“64% of the people sitting in our local jails report a severe mental illness,” Brown said. “Now compare that to the overall population and you can see that our local jails are actually being used defacto as mental health providers for a majority of the people suffering from mental illness.”

Brown said the Mental Health Court is a problem-solving court that saved taxpayers’ money by rehabilitating people who would otherwise be in the prison system long-term. 

Brown discussed some of the successes of the Mental Health Court, including people staying sober and connecting with their families again. 

“Our success rate at the Mental Health Court is 93 % and 25 of 27 individuals have either graduated or are currently compliant with our program,” Brown said.

The Hays County Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. on select Tuesdays each month. For more information, visit its website.

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