Governor Youngkin’s Administration proposes a $230 million investment in redesigning Virginia’s behavioral health system. This is a three-year plan designed to improve behavioral health services. The Governor’s Behavioral Health Redesign is based upon six pillars. The first pillar is designed to ensure same-day services for those experiencing mental health crises. The second pillar aims to reduce the burden on law enforcement and reduce the criminalization of mental illness. The third pillar hopes to enhance system capacity, including providing more community-based support. The fourth pillar focuses on providing targeted support for substance use disorder (SUD). The fifth pillar is designed to help support and develop the behavioral health workforce. Finally, the sixth pillar is about identifying service innovations and best practices.
Some of the specifics of Governor Youngkin’s Plan include the following Budget Amendments :
· $58 million to increase the number of crisis-receiving centers
· $20 million for hospital-based psychiatric emergency alternatives
· $9 million to fund police officers transporting patients under temporary
· $8.5 million to fund behavioral health workforce education
· $8 million for supportive housing.
· $15 million for the expansion of a school-based mental health pilot program
· $20 million in one-time funding for mobile crisis units
VOCAL thanks the Governor for taking bold action to reform Virginia’s behavioral health system. Measures need to be pursued to help alleviate the stress that is being placed on an overburdened system. The Governor cited data that indicated 6 out of 10 individuals suffering from mental health challenges did not seek treatment. Thus, the system is being underutilized and crisis centered.
VOCAL supports the Administration's goal of increasing peer recovery services by 10% by December 2023. VOCAL also believes that the current crisis will not abate without fully funding Community Service Boards. The overall objective should be to create a Recovery Oriented System of Care. VOCAL looks forward to continuing to work with the Youngkin Administration to ensure that all Virginians have the right behavioral health services when they need them.