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State Senator Creigh Deeds recognized for mental health reforms

deeds-header-newVirginia State Senator Creigh Deeds received the 2015 State Legislator of the Year Award from the American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO) in recognition of his determination to improve mental health services and reduce stigma associated with mental illness. Sen. Deeds was presented with the award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on March 15.

After being attacked and severely wounded by his mentally ill son, who had been unable to obtain needed emergency treatment and later died by suicide, Sen. Deeds resolved to fix the broken mental health system in Virginia. He led the way on several reforms, including extending the amount of time allowed to find a psychiatric bed, funding for a real-time online registry of available beds and requiring state mental health facilities to provide a “bed of last resort.” He also secured approval for a four-year comprehensive study of the state’s mental health system.

“State Senator Creigh Deeds is a strong voice for mental and behavioral health. Over time, these changes will undoubtedly save lives and prevent many families from having to suffer the kind of heartache that he and his family endured,” said Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, APAPO’s executive director. “Virginia’s residents and psychologists could not ask for a better ally and leader for mental health in their state legislature.”

Sen. Deeds is proud of what he has accomplished, but recognizes there is still work to be done.

“While I am deeply honored by this recognition from the American Psychological Association Practice Organization, the accomplishments we have reached in Virginia pale in comparison to the amount of work that lies ahead,” Sen. Deeds said. “I look forward to partnering with psychologists in Virginia and around the country to identify solutions and meaningful reforms. The input from practitioners is invaluable to this process.”

Sen. Deeds has represented the 25th District in the Senate of Virginia since December 2001. Prior to his service in the Senate, he served as a local prosecutor and 10 years in the House of Delegates. Sen. Deeds currently sits on the General Laws and Technology, Privileges and Elections, Rehabilitation and Social Services, and Transportation Committees. He chairs the Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the 21st Century.

“The Virginia Academy of Clinical Psychologists is very pleased that Sen. Deeds is being nationally recognized for his efforts to improve the public mental health system in Virginia,” said VACP president Michael Chiglinsky, PhD.  “His family’s private tragedy has been the impetus to enact substantive changes that will benefit all Virginians and their families in need of mental health services. Creigh Deeds is a caring and compassionate leader and we stand with him as he continues to work to improve access to high-quality services.”

APAPO’s State Legislator of the Year Award has been presented annually since 2002 to a state legislator who has prominently championed the goals of professional psychology.

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