Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe Press Release
Governor McAuliffe signed Executive Order #12 yesterday, which continues the Governor’s Task Force on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response.
Speaking about the Executive Order, Governor McAuliffe stated, “I am glad to sign Executive Order 12, which ensures that Virginia leaders continue to focus on access to mental health services and improvements in Virginia’s mental health system as we work to build better communities and grow the Commonwealth’s economy. I am encouraged at the progress we made legislatively this year on reforming our mental health system, but there is still significant work to be done to prevent future tragedies from occurring and to make sure our mental health system works for all Virginians.
“I want to thank Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam for agreeing to chair the Task Force along with Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel and Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran who will co-chair. I also thank all of the Virginia leaders who are working tirelessly to improve our Commonwealth’s mental health system and the outcomes it delivers for the Virginians we all serve.”
Full Text of the Executive Order is Below:
EXECUTIVE ORDER NUMBER TWELVE (2014) CONTINUING THE GOVERNOR’S TASK FORCE ON IMPROVING MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES AND CRISIS RESPONSE
Importance of the Taskforce
Virginians have experienced tremendous heartache as a result of mental health tragedies. It is incumbent upon us to reevaluate how we can better serve our fellow Virginians with mental health needs and examine ways to improve the system by filling in gaps in services and making impactful investments. Collaborative groups of experts, advocates, policy-makers and others have assessed certain aspects of the system and affected critical changes over the years. In particular, following the tragedy at Virginia Tech, Virginia’s leaders drew upon work done by the Virginia Tech Review Panel and the Commission on Mental Health Law Reform to study and investigate the tragedy in order to strengthen the civil commitment process through legislation so that individuals with serious mental illness could receive needed help in a timely manner. The 2008 budget included an infusion of funds to build core community services such as emergency services, case management, and outpatient treatment. Unfortunately, many of these gains were lost as a result of the economic downturn. Last year, targeted investments were made to Virginia’s mental health system upon recommendations from the Governor’s Taskforce on School and Campus Safety.
While bolstering our ability to respond to mental health crises when they occur, we must continue to seek ways to intervene early and prevent crises from developing. Virginia has crisis prevention services in place, such as outpatient psychiatric consultation, suicide prevention, Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) services, and rehabilitation services. These services are in high demand, and are not consistently available across the Commonwealth.
Virginia’s mental health system has moved away from the days of overcrowded state mental institutions toward a community-based system for individuals to receive treatment in their homes and communities. However, the mental health system remains extremely complex and difficult to navigate for families seeking assistance and for workers within the system. Though state law helps guide the process, practices and services are locally developed. This system allows flexibility to implement the policies that work best for particular regions, though the protocols have not always been in writing and variations have existed across the Commonwealth.
The mental health system for emergency services is dependent upon cooperation and communication from a variety of partners, including community services boards, law enforcement, the judicial system and private hospitals. Effective collaboration among these many parties ensures the most favorable outcomes for people in crisis. While emergency mental health services work for most people, it is critical that the mental health safety net responds effectively to all individuals and families in crisis.
Since taking office, my administration and I have been committed to finding and supporting measures to assure the care and safety of persons suffering mental health crises along with their families, neighbors, and members of the community. Lawmakers acted quickly this session to make numerous changes to Virginia’s mental health laws. Among the changes is extending the emergency custody order (ECO) period from a maximum of six to a total of eight possible hours. This change will give clinicians more time to locate an available psychiatric bed during the ECO period. Our legislators also extended the temporary detention order period from 48 to 72 hours to help ensure individuals have enough treatment time to stabilize prior to the court hearing which determines involuntary admission to a psychiatric hospital.
To help Virginia improve its mental health crisis response, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) has taken steps since the beginning of 2014 to outline clear and specific statewide expectations for securing a private or a state psychiatric bed when an individual qualifies for a temporary detention order. In turn, partners across Virginia’s seven DBHDS Partnership Planning Regions, including community services boards and state and private hospitals, have incorporated state guidance into tightened and clarified admission procedures for the regions’ private and state psychiatric beds. In addition, in a collaborative effort among DBHDS, Virginia Health Information, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association and the 40 local community services boards, Virginia launched an online psychiatric bed registry to help clinicians locate available beds in an emergency situation. While the changes that have been made in recent months have been critical, more solutions are needed to improve Virginia’s complicated and chronically underfunded mental health system. Because the system is multifaceted, the solutions must be as well.
Through this Executive Order, I am calling on leaders in the mental health field, law enforcement communities, the judicial system, private hospitals, and individuals receiving mental health services, to seek and recommend solutions that will improve Virginia’s mental health crisis services and help prevent crises from developing.
To accomplish this, in accordance with the authority vested in me by Article V of the Constitution of Virginia and under the laws of the Commonwealth, including but not limited to §§ 2.2-134 and 2.2-135 of the Code of Virginia, and subject to my continuing and ultimate authority and responsibility to act in such matters, I hereby continue the Governor’s Task Force on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response.
Governor’s Task Force on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response
The Task Force’s responsibilities shall include the following:
Public Safety and Homeland Security;
Membership shall include the following individuals or their designees:
The Governor may appoint other members as he deems necessary.
Task Force Staffing and Funding
Necessary staff support for the Task Force's work during its existence shall be furnished by the Office of the Governor, and the Offices of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security, as well as other agencies and offices designated by the Governor. An estimated 750 hours of staff time will be required to support the work of the Task Force.
Necessary funding to support the Commission and its staff shall be provided from federal funds, private contributions, and state funds appropriated for the same purposes as the Task Force, as authorized by § 2.2-135 of the Code of Virginia, as well as any other private sources of funding that may be identified. Estimated direct costs for this Commission are $5,000 per year.
The Task Force shall commence its work promptly and suggest legislative and budgetary proposals that will enable the implementation of identified recommendations. The Task Force shall make recommendations on an ongoing basis and shall provide a final report to the Governor no later than October 1, 2014. The Task Force shall issue such other reports and recommendations as necessary or as requested by the Governor.
Effective Date of the Executive Order
This Executive Order replaces Executive Order No. 68 (2013) issued on December 10, 2013, by Governor Robert F. McDonnell. This Executive Order shall be effective upon signing and, pursuant to §§ 2.2-134 and 2.2-135 of the Code of Virginia, shall remain in force and effect for one year from its signing unless amended or rescinded by further executive order.
Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia, this 8th day of April, 2014.