Governor Announces Mental Health Changes

Dec 11, 2013

Governor McDonnell has unveiled a series of funding provisions for his final state budget to improve and strengthen Virginia’s mental health services. The Governor had already decided to fund these Campus Safety Task Force recommendations this summer, but their urgency was underscored by the recent death of a state senator’s son after local health officials reportedly could not find a psychiatric bed for him during a mental health crisis.  McDonnell says the reforms will continue long after he has left office.


The Governor also issued an executive order to create a new task force to fine-tune the proposals over the long term.  Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe applauded the recommendations and funding- and said he will continue working to improve the system.

The Governor says his goal is to expand capacity and improve protocols for community support services, psychiatric beds, and staffing to handle crises and improve preventive care. One item funds extending the time for detaining a person who may a danger to himself or others-in part, to locate a bed.

“The current ECO [Emergency Custody Order] period only lasts six hours. This will extend that by two. Secondly, we’re providing funding for and extension of the Temporary Detention Order from 48 hours to 72 hours to have that initial crisis evaluation done by competent medical personnel.”

The plan would convert vacant Eastern State Hospital geriatric beds to psychiatric ones and fund Western State Hospital, as well as expand crisis intervention assessment centers and outpatient care:
“-For older teens and young adults transitioning from school, college, or in their early adulthood, when a lot of these mental health illnesses recognize their onset.”

The provisions expand telemedicine. And a new state database that lists available beds will go on-line in January.  Altogether, the Governor would add nearly 100 million dollars for ALL related services.