On July 28, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced the commonwealth will invest $485 million to strengthen Virginia’s Behavioral Health Care System. The funding will go toward alleviating pressure on Virginia’s mental health hospitals, strengthening community-based services, and increasing support for substance treatment and prevent programs.
The announcement was made in part as a result of the covid-19 pandemic and its emotional toll on citizens.
“Every Virginian should have access to the behavioral health care and treatment they need, either in their home communities or in a state-operated facility,” said Governor Northam in a release. “The pandemic has led to increases in depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and other mental health issues in Virginia and across the country, which has added to the strain on our behavioral health system and the valued people who work within it.”
The governor’s plan includes roughly $200 million that will go toward staffing at behavioral health facilities and intellectual disability training centers for bonuses and salary adjustments. The commonwealth also plans to invest $150 million to increase access to community-based crisis services as well as child and family support services, and provide training for the Marcus Alert program, a a new statewide mental health alert system designed to ensure behavioral health experts are involved in responding to individuals in crisis.
Lastly, $103 million will go toward opioid and substance abuses treatment services.