Gov. Youngkin proposes $230 million plan to bolster state mental health, substance abuse services
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - At Parham Doctor’s Hospital in Henrico County, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced a six pillar approach to help those struggling with their mental health and substance abuse problems with a $230 million price tag.
“We face a level of mental health and substance use issues never seen before all too often resulting in violence, suicide and murder,” Youngkin said Wednesday.
The governor, brought to tears at the event, said that money will fund a number of initiatives, including $20 million for mobile crisis teams, $58 million to increase the number of Crisis Receiving Centers, $9 million to expand tele-behavioral health inside schools, and another $15 million to expand school-based mental health services.
Youngkin and others say the commonwealth does not have adequate infrastructure to care for someone on the same day as their crisis.
“A large part of the problem in this state is that we have one of the worst mental health systems in the country, and we’ve made small gains,” said Elizabeth Hilscher, of the State Board of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.
Hilscher also lost her daughter Emily Jane during the mass shooting at Virginia Tech. She’s encouraged by the plan, but also says at some point we have to address gun control.
“I look at this as a really big ship and it’s going to take two tug boats for while. One to push and one to pull and eventually, I think, we can get there,” said Hilscher.
The plan also calls for an $8 million investment in expanded housing options for those with serious mental health or substance abuse issues.
“So we’re really all in this together. This is an initiative that affects everyone. It leaves no one behind. Mental health does not just inflict the rich or the poor,” said Suzanne Youngkin, First Lady of Virginia.
On Thursday morning, the governor goes before lawmakers to present the plan along with his overall budget amendments.
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