This week, we mark the 8th anniversary of this country’s deadliest shooting rampage – an attack that left 33 dead at Virginia Tech.
Dr. Bela Sood is a psychiatrist at Virginia Commonwealth University – a senior professor of child mental health policy and the author of a new book, The Virginia Tech Massacre: Strategies and Challenges for Improving Mental Health Policy on Campus and Beyond. She was appointed by then Governor Tim Kaine to study what had happened at Tech and to offer suggestions for preventing future tragedies.
The practice of “streeting”—or releasing people with mental illnesses when psychiatric beds are not found for them—came to light in 2013 when that happened to Senator Creigh Deeds’ son, who later took his own life. But changes in civil commitment laws to reform the state’s crisis response system were subsequently approved and took effect last July. State officials have unveiled new statistics that reveal the effects of those reforms.
Virginia is creating a new Center for Behavioral Health and Justice under an executive directive signed by Governor McAuliffe. Its mission is to foster better interagency collaboration and help coordinate services in the state’s behavioral health system. The focus will be on individuals with mental illness who become involved with the criminal justice system.
During its recent session, Virginia's General Assembly took action on the Governor's Access Plan, which is a limited mental health and medical benefits package for a group of low-income adults in the Commonwealth. But what does it do, who is eligible, and what are its limitations?
Lawmakers approved a variation of the program granted by the federal government at the behest of Governor McAuliffe. Mira Signer with the National Alliance for Mental Illness says the benefits are for the seriously mentally ill between the ages of 21 and 64.
One of the state's greatest proponents in the General Assembly for mental health reforms says when it comes to progress made during this legislative session, it's a mixed bag. Senator Creigh Deeds says the MOST important legislation he sponsored actually died in the House of Delegates.