Virginia to change mental health policy - FOX Carolina 21

Virginia to change mental health policy

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

The news that Senator Creigh Deeds' son Gus was turned away from a mental hospital because there were not enough beds sent shockwaves across the state and launched a debate on metal health.

The state is looking to change policy that will make beds available for critical mental illnesses. We spoke with Michael O'Connor the executive director of mental health in Henrico.

"It certainly points in the right direction of really talking about the role that all the players have to play, private hospitals, state hospitals as well as the communities," O'Connor said.

In a recent study on TDO's or Temporary Detention Orders across the state it was found that no procedure for how to help a critically mentally ill person was actually written or set in stone.

That prompted the state to work on a new policy that would speed up efforts to clear and specify statewide expectations for securing a psychiatric bed when an individual qualifies for emergency assistance.

"I think it really focuses on making sure that we properly and completely use the beds that are available because sometimes there are beds available, but for some reason or another, individuals are not accepted and those beds are not appropriate," O'Conner said.

While many say the policy change is needed, they also believe there are other areas of mental health that deserve the same amount of attention, if not more.

"I think a more important part of the picture is to look at what is needed before a crisis to prevent a crisis, and what is needed on the other side of recovery to help them maintain their recovery in the community," Larry Barnett said.

The Department of Mental Health and Developmental Services is hoping to have the policy revised and issues to state health facilities by January 15th.

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