Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has proposed $38.3 million for mental health services over the next two years and has ordered the creation of a mental health task force to provide guidance on how to utilize the funds. Network faithful may recall that a month ago Creigh Deeds was stabbed by his son with mental health challenges who then shot himself.
In a statement to the press Governor McDonnel said, “Over the years, including the events of April 16, 2007, Virginians have experienced tremendous heartache as a result of mental health tragedies. We have made progress, but there is still much to do. … While there are quality services in place to address most types of mental health needs, we must increase the capacity and availability of those services in all Virginia communities so every person in crisis is able to receive much-needed help.”
The initial focus of the initiative is to expand state crisis intervention programs, maintain and expand bed capacity and provide more operating funds to two state hospitals. In addition, there are plans to review existing mental health programs to assess needs for expansion, and explore the use of telepsychiatry. Also up for consideration is expanding outpatient services for young adults with mental health challenges and programs designed to help those with serious and persistent mental illnesses avoid hospitalization.
Needless to say, Network faithful in Virginia need to be a part of the process! The task force will be led by the state secretary of Health and Human Services and the secretary of public safety and include members from both the public and private sectors.