Deeds' Bill to Study Education Requirements for Mental Healthcar - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Deeds' Bill to Study Education Requirements for Mental Healthcare Professionals

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State Senator Creigh Deeds wants to know if professionals charged with evaluating people in mental crisis are qualified to do the job.

Deeds' bill, approved by a Senate subcommittee Tuesday afternoon, would ask the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) to study training and qualification requirements for people trusted to evaluate individuals under an emergency custody order (ECO).

The proposal comes less than two months after Deeds suffered serious stab wounds during a fight with his son, Gus, in their Bath County home in November. Gus died at the home later that morning of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The incident focused attention on the mental health treatment Gus did not receive the day before while under an ECO.

"It's my experience that perhaps there's not the urgency that needs to be in the population of people who do emergency custody orders, and I want to make sure that before we make recommendations on changes to the qualifications that we get it right," said Deeds.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have committed to making mental health reform a priority during the 2014 General Assembly session. Before leaving office, Gov. Bob McDonnell asked lawmakers to set aside $38 million in the state budget for improvements to mental health and crisis response.

If approved, Deeds' bill would require DBHDS to report its findings to Governor McAuliffe and the General Assembly by December 1. It now goes before the Senate committee on education and health.

The following was taken from a 2008 memo, listing DBHDS educational requirements for community services board evaluators:

"Education requirements: After July 1, 2008, individuals hired or contracted by CSBs to function as ECO evaluators and preadmission screeners must possess the following minimum educational qualifications prior to completion of the DBHDS certification training:

  • Master's degree with a major course of study in Human Services (.e.g., Counseling, Social Work, Rehabilitation Counseling, Nursing) or Masters degree or equivalent course credits in Psychology. The degree should be acceptable by the Virginia Department of Health Professions as a sufficient Master's degree to allow licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Licensed Substance Abuse Practitioner, or a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, or
  • Virginia license as a Registered Nurse and 36 months professional work experience with a psychiatric population."

CSB evaluators must also complete the online curriculum through the DBHDS Knowledge Center portal.

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