New Perspectives - Feb,
1994 Issue #26
THE BROWN SCHOOLS
Behavioral Health System
Austin, San Marcos & San Antonio, Texas
Jane Ellen Rhodes
Lon's Visit: January 16-17, 1994
The Brown Schools are a group of psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment centers and
community-based programs, primarily oriented to young people. Although psychiatric facilities are not the focus of this newsletter,
the Brown Schools reputation is such that any professional working with young people with problems should be aware of the services
The first Brown Schools facility was established in 1940 by Mr. and Mrs. Bert P. Brown "to
provide care in a loving environment for troubled youth." The founding of Brown Schools followed a pattern that has been duplicated
many times since by many other successful youth schools and programs throughout the country: They brought some young people into their
home to give them the help they needed. Responding to the needs of those young people, the Browns then brought in the resources the
As time went on, The Brown Schools rapidly evolved into providing clinical services, and
then have spent fifty years evolving into the complex we see today. The Brown Schools staff pride themselves in having the ability,
expertise and technology to treat difficult cases and to address complex psychiatric issues. Specialized programs are available to
work with Neuropsychiatric Disorders, Dissociative Disorders, Sexual Abuse, Abandonment Issues, Gang-related Problems, Substance Abuse
and many other issues, which are all integrated to meet the multiple needs of their patients.
I had three major impressions during my whirlwind tour of most of the facilities. First
was the environment, which was clean, orderly, and pleasant. There was very little sense of being closed in. Even self- contained,
locked facilities had large picture windows to provide a view, and skylights allowed the maximum amount of sunlight in. The grounds
were spacious with sidewalks and grass, somewhat like a college campus. It was obvious a healthy and orderly environment was a high
The second impression was that the staff were caring, competent and dedicated professionals
who knew what they were doing and why. Several staff independently made the point that they want only children with psychiatric issues.
None of this enrolling behavior/emotional problem children in order to fill beds.
The third impression was the sense of transition going on while I was there. The changes
in the mental health industry through changing insurance standards and managed care approaches has had a profound impact on hospitals
and residential treatment centers, as anyone familiar with the health care industry is aware of. The Brown Schools are going through
major changes in order to adapt to the changing environment. The balancing act they were going through was how to conform to the new
requirements while still maximizing the impact on their patients. A common comment was something like, this is the way we used to
do it, and this is how we hope it will work out.
Any time I have a client with psychiatric problems, The Brown Schools can be a good option.
Copyright © 1994, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced
without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)