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Virginia delivers for behavioral health, signing bills to support workforce, individuals in crisis

Crystal Graham
youngkin behavioral health
Submitted photo by Office of Governor Glenn Youngkin.

Twenty four bills were signed on Thursday aimed to strengthen insurance coverage for behavioral health treatment, reduce the burden on law enforcement and enhance the workforce.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin made the announcement at Faquier Health Hospital where he was joined by legislators, law enforcement, health care leaders and behavioral health advocates.

The bills signed into law address issues like wait times for individuals being held under a Temporary Detention Order, coverage by private health insurance for mobile crisis teams and efforts to bolster the behavioral health care workforce.

“Virginians deserve same-day behavioral health services in their moment of need, and yet many people find themselves waiting days for a bed to become available. When you need help, every moment matters. At times, that care arrives too late,” said Youngkin.

Virginia’s First Lady also spoke at the news conference.

“Virginians have become too familiar with the tragic loss of a loved one due to a mental health or substance use crisis,” said First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin. “Our work together will create a continuum of care that spans prevention, crisis and recovery services. Every single Virginian has a role to play in the important work to destigmatize behavioral health and know what to do in a crisis.”

Secretary of Health and Human Services John Littel said the steps taken now will get Virginia closer to the goal of ensuring every person in Virginia has the help they need, when they need it.

“For far too long, our behavioral health care system has lacked the infrastructure to support the needs of Virginians. While we are only in the first year of our three-year plan, these bills will have a tremendous impact on people in need of care, their loved ones, and their communities,” said Littel.

Governor Youngkin unveiled Right Help, Right Now, his three-year plan for Virginia’s behavioral health system, in December.

Behavioral health bills

  • HB 1976 (Bell) and SB 1299 (Deeds): Involuntary admission, temporary detention; release of detained individual.
  • HB 2313 (Head) and SB 1132 (Peake) Criminal history record information; dissemination.
  • HB 2216 (Leftwich) and SB 1347 (Cosgrove) Health insurance; coverage for mobile crisis response services and residential crisis units.
  • HB 2165 (Fariss) and SB 1054 (Peake) Interjurisdictional compacts; criminal history background checks.
  • HB 2410 (Watts) Duration of involuntary temporary detention.
  • SB 872 (Newman) Emergency custody; temporary detention, alternative transportation.
  • SB 1043 (McPike) Public education; student mental health and counseling, definitions, licensure requirements.
  • HB 1792 (Ransone) and SB 1302 (Deeds) temporary detention in hospital for testing, observation, or treatment.
  • HB 2124 (Wilt) School psychologists, staffing flexibility.
  • HB 1525 (Coyner) and SB 846 (Favola) Peer recovery specialists; barrier crime exceptions.
  • HB 2345 (Head) and SB 1255 (Dunnavant) Smartchart Network Program; renames 33 Emergency Department Care Coordination Program, report.
  • HB 2231 (Sickles) Social Work, Board of; expands powers and duties.
  • HB 1945 (Durant) Children and adolescents; data reporting, reporting requirements.
  • HB 1592 (Davis) and SB 1072 (Bell) Public schools; codes of student conduct, policies and procedures prohibiting bullying.
  • HB 2185 (Rasoul) and SB 1169 (Hanger) Community Services Boards and Behavioral Health Authorities; provisions of performance contracts.

Learn more about the Right Help, Right Now plan.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.