MHAV: Mental health budget increases need support

These next few days are a crucial time in the Virginia House and Senate budget negotiations, when budget conferees will make decisions about what to include in the final budget. Now is the time to contact budget conferees to ask that they support budget amendments to improve our mental health system.

Specifically, we ask budget conferees to prioritize the following:

Restore funding to address critical behavioral health workforce needs

We have a workforce crisis. The shortage of behavioral health practitioners directly impacts patient access to evidence-based mental health services.

  1. Behavioral Health Loan Repayment ProgramItem 295 #1s and item 300 #2s. Please support the Senate amendments that restore $1,688,914 GF in FY 22 to establish the Behavioral Health Loan Repayment Program. The loan repayment program would recruit and retain behavioral health practitioners in Virginia by awarding student loan repayment to certain practitioners who provide service to underserved communities for at least two years.
  2. Clinical Staffing at the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents (CCCA): Item 326 #1s.Please support the Senate amendment that restores $765,428 GF in FY22 to allow CCCA, Virginia’s only in-patient psychiatric hospital for children, to hire critical staff needed to meet the clinical and safety needs of the children it serves.

Address overcrowding in state psychiatric hospitals

  1. Pilot Programs for State Hospital Census Reduction: Item 320 #6s. Support the Senate amendment to restore $3.75 million in FY22 to fully restore funding for alternative inpatient options to state behavioral health hospital care with two-year pilot projects to reduce census pressures on state hospitals.
  2. Forensic Discharge Planning in Jails. Item 322 #2s: $2.1 million GF FY22Support Senate amendment to restore $2.1 million GF in FY22 to expand forensic discharge planning services at three additional jails with a high percentage of inmates with serious mental illness (SMI). Discharge planning includes linking those with SMI to community-based treatment and housing.
  3. Transportation for Individuals from State Hospitals: Item 321 #1s.  Support Senate amendment to restore $150,000 GF in FY22 to provide for the transportation costs of patients discharged from state hospitals that were admitted under a Temporary Detention Order (TDO). This funding is important because individuals under a TDO are often transported to a state facility that is hours away from their home, and they may not have transportation back home upon discharge.
  1. Develop Options for Virginia Treatment Center for Children (VTCC): Item 320 #8sSupport Senate language amendment that directs DBHDS to work with VTCC to examine and develop strategies that better utilize VTCC in assisting with relief on the census pressures on the CCCA.

Please use your voice to ask budget conferees (listed below) to include these critical behavioral health amendments in the final budget. The next couple of days are the critical time to send these messages, so please act now and encourage your friends across the Commonwealth to do so as well.

Budget conferees

These are the “budget conferees” – Members of the House and Senate who form the committee that works out differences between the budgets adopted by the House and the Senate:

Del. Torian –
Del. Sickles –
Del. Carr –
Del. Tyler –
Del. Bulova –
Del. Knight –
Del. Austin –
Sen. Howell –
Sen. Barker –
Sen. Lucas –
Sen. Locke –
Sen. Deeds –
Sen. Norment –
Sen. Hanger –

More information

Several mental health bills we support are on their way to becoming law. Additional support will be needed in the closing days of the legislative session. More on these bills soon!

Meanwhile, you can see most mental health related bills on our 2021 Bill Tracking Log, and other legislative information on the MHAV website.