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TheProgress-Index: Governor signs bills to improve mental health services PDF Print E-mail


CREATED: JUNE 12, 2017


CHESTERFIELD — The state increased its commitment to ensuring quality mental health care for citizens Monday after Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed into law three pieces of legislation that will more strictly govern mental health screenings and require Community Service Boards to expand their offerings by 2021.

The three bills, House Bills 1996 and 1549 and Senate Bill 1005, were all passed this year by the General Assembly and then made into law Monday in a crowded room at the Chesterfield Community Services Board.

The laws will aim to improve the healthcare mental health patients receive, including allowing same-day appointments and enhancing healthcare for veterans.

“We want to make sure we’re taking care of everybody no matter where they live in the Commonwealth,” McAuliffe said. “The economy is strong today. It is stronger every single day, but there are a lot of individuals who need help and a lot of people have fallen through the cracks and that’s what (signing these bills are about) -- to give everybody in the Commonwealth of Virginia access to treatment they desperately need.”

Earlier this year, McAuliffe requested more than $30 million for improvements to mental health services and introduced a plan to develop two new healthcare buildings for the Veterans Health Administration.

“Gov. McAuliffe has probably been the most active and the most proactive when it comes to mental health of any governor that we ever had,” Virginia Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) said.

As a result of McAuliffe enacting these pieces of legislation into law, Community Service Boards will be required to provide same-day access and mental health screenings to patients along with outpatient primary care screenings by July 2019.

By 2021, the boards will be required to provide crisis and outpatient services for mental health and substance disorders, peer and family support and mental health services for individuals who are far from a VA facility.

In addition, HB1996 will require that those who are ordered by a court to receive mental health treatment must be allowed into a treatment facility no more than 10 days after the court order.

“If someone needs substance abuse counseling or mental health treatment ... the (Community Service Boards), really for many people, it’s the only place they actually can go,” McAuliffe said. “And we want to make sure if they’re coming to our CSBs, if we are giving them the best quality care we can offer and we need to do that everywhere.”