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Mental Health Subcommittee Meets for 1st time in Richmond - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Mental Health Subcommittee Meets for 1st time in Richmond

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Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services meeting Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services meeting
RICHMOND, Va (WVIR) -

Monday, the push to advance Virginia’s mental health system took another step forward. A new subcommittee, made up of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, met for the first time.

The Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services is led by Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds and Delegate Rob Bell.

Although new laws that went into effect this summer have addressed some of the system's lapses, there's still a long way to go.

Even though the 12 lawmakers will study the issue in-depth for the next four years, the leaders didn't waste any time Monday. They promised a thorough review of the system and several spoke out about the need for more services and more funding. Problems of over-reliance on law enforcement along with the nature of addressing problems after crisis strikes also came up.

"We have a chance now to do something right. We have to look at our system from the bottom up. Find out what works, what doesn't work,” said 25th District Senator Creigh Deeds (D).

The momentum to reform Virginia’s mental health system spurred from the family tragedy involving Senator Deeds, whose son, Gus, attacked him and ultimately killed himself last fall.

In the last session, $5 million worth of funding went into making changes. We now have a real-time psychiatric bed registry and an extended maximum duration for emergency custody orders - but the movement is far from over.

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