Mental Health Report Addresses Accountability

Feb 19, 2014

There’s new information on the state of the mental health system in Virginia.

A new report issued by the state’s inspector general reveals that Virginia is spending millions of dollars annually to house mental health patients who no longer qualify or need state care. 

According to the latest report by the Office of the State Inspector General, there are mental health patients occupying beds that could otherwise be used by people requiring emergency or long-term psychiatric care.

The report states that in 2012, Virginia spent more than $28 million to keep 161 patients in state mental hospitals even though they were ready for community-based mental health services at only 12 percent of the cost. 

The report also finds that the state is not adequately managing the funds issued to address the problem. Of the $19 million dollars issued to local and regional mental health agencies for “discharge assistance planning”, no audits have been conducted and there is concern that some of those funds are being used for purposes other than mental health discharge assistance.

According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, the executive director of the Virginia Community Service Board says the funds have been efficiently implemented, considering they are serving almost twice the number of individuals than originally expected with the allocations.

 The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services agrees that additional general audits would help alleviate the situation, but that it lacks the manpower to conduct them.

The inspector general does acknowledge that significant improvements on that matter have taken place since the original report in 2012, and that that this report is a follow-up.

The report has been submitted to Governor McAuliffe and members of the General Assembly.