Forum to bring together policymakers, VCU experts to focus on challenges facing state mental health system

vcuA “Mental Health Mini-University” will bring together policymakers and VCU researchers and officials for a discussion on the continued challenges facing the mental health system in Virginia.

The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs and the Department of Psychiatry in the VCU School of Medicine are sponsoring the event in conjunction with the Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the 21st Century, which is led by Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County.

The event will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6, at the state Capitol. The forum will be open to the public.

Peter Buckley, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and professor in the Department of Psychiatry, will discuss “Mental Health and Workforce Development,” and Mishka Terplan, M.D., professor of obstetrics, gynecology and psychiatry and associate director of addiction medicine, will discuss “The Health Effects of Alcohol, Cannabis and Opioids.”

Welcoming and closing remarks will be provided by VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., and S. Hughes Melton, M.D., commissioner of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. Robyn McDougle, Ph.D., director of the Wilder School’s Center for Public Policy, and Joel Silverman, M.D., chair of the Department of Psychiatry, will moderate.

Findings of the Winter 2018 Wilder School Public Policy Poll showed that out of several state program areas, such as public schools and public safety, Virginians are most likely to support mental health programs with additional taxes but see those programs as the least efficiently managed.

Conversations between the Department of Psychiatry and McDougle suggested a gathering like the mini-university would be a productive way to keep improvements in Virginia’s mental health system moving forward on the basis of research findings.

“Since 2014, the Deeds Commission has worked to improve the efficiency of the commonwealth’s mental health system, identifying and making important changes,” McDougle said.

Silverman added: “By bringing together academics and policymakers for this discussion of continued challenges that face the mental health system today, we hope to equip policymakers with insights from top research experts, and inform ongoing policy solutions for those facing mental health challenges.”


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