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Gov. Youngkin signs bills to improve mental health care

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin speaks at a news conference on November 8, 2023 in Richmond, Virginia (AP Photo/Jay Paul, File)

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – On Thursday, Governor Glenn Youngkin ceremonially signed a series of bills aimed at improving mental health care in Virginia.

It’s part of its ‘Right Help, Right Now’ initiative, a three-year plan to ensure people who need help get it as quickly as possible.

“Crisis shelters are being built all over the Commonwealth,” Youngkin said. “Psychiatric hospitals are being built all over the Commonwealth. They are mobile crisis capabilities so we can basically go to where the Virginians are and keep them out of hospitals.”

That’s in addition to expanding the mental health workforce and creating alternative transportation options to ease pressure on police.

He told us that changes are already happening across the Commonwealth.

“Our goal was to have 70 mobile crisis units operational across the Commonwealth,” Youngkin said. “Well, guess what: we’re well over a hundred today and we’re still building. Our goal was to start the process of getting crisis shelters on the drawing board. Now they are being built everywhere.”

Brandon Rodgers, associate executive director at the Western Tidewater Community Services Board, said one of the major bills signed involves automated drug delivery machines.

“That will ensure that when a person comes in, if one of our nurses who sees him decides that medication is one of the best methods of treatment, he or she can actually have that medication dispensed directly from a bulk dispenser and be able to take that medication on the spot and start treating them right away,” Rodgers said.

Kimberly Jackson, CEO of United Community Solutions, shared her vision for “the right help, right now” for patients and their families.

“It’s important to us to make sure we’re providing the right level of care,” Jackson said. “We respond to crises and provide same-day access. So yeah, to put it in perspective, being here seals the deal.

Youngkin also announced that his administration will work on a new task force to study social media and its impact on young people.

Keep checking for updates.

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