Mental Health

Steve Helber / AP

 

Lawmakers started the session with a resolve to do something about the problem of mental illness in Virginia jails, an effort that has urgency this year because of a tragic death that happened last year. But as Michael Pope reports, now lawmakers are saying they can’t find the money to change the system.

 

The state has awarded $3.5 million in grants to six regional jails to provide mental health services.  Officials hope to address the underlying cause of crimes -- to keep inmates from coming back after they’re released. 

Rockbridge Area Community Services

Rural mental health crisis intervention is getting a boost from a new regional Crisis Intervention Assessment Site in Lexington. 

Rockbridge Area Community Services has been training law enforcement officers to become members a Mental Health Crisis Intervention Team. Now, in cooperation with Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital, they have a Crisis Intervention Assessment Site. John Young is Executive Director of Rockbridge Area Community Services:  

AP Photo / Evan Vucci

Virginia spends only 52% of the national average on community-based mental health according to a national non-profit called Mental Health America, ranking the state 38th compared to others. The news comes as a group co-chaired by Senator Creigh Deeds meets in Richmond to review goals for the legislative session which begins in January.  

A line in this year’s Virginia state budget calls for the shuttering of two psychiatric hospitals in southwestern Virginia.  But some are calling for them to remain open at a time when recent events have spotlighted the urgent need for more mental health services, not fewer.

Governor Terry McAuliffe’s budget proposal would provide $1 million to cover the costs of shutting down two psychiatric hospitals in southern Virginia.  The plan raised an outcry at a time when it’s becoming clear that there’s already a lack of sufficient beds for people in psychological crises in the state.

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