Thursday, April 18, 2024

Virginia Works to Improve Residents’ Mental Health

According to a 2022 Kaiser Family Foundation study, 57% of schools reported having insufficient access to licensed mental health professionals. (Adobe Stock)

RICHMOND — May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Virginia is working to improve the mental health of its residents.

In Mental Health America’s 2023 State of Mental Health report, Virginia ranked 48th for youth mental health, which indicates higher rates of mental illness among the state’s youth and little access to care.

Earlier this year, the state’s General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1300, which requires teachers to get trauma-informed care training every three years.

Bruce Cruser, executive director of Mental Health America, noted there could be increased federal funding, although there are challenges to getting it.

“There have been increases in the federal budget, but as we move forward, those COVID relief monies are gone, and the American Recovery Act,” Cruser outlined. “It will depend on Congress and the president agreeing on budgets will accomplish a lot of this.”

Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Right Help, Right Now plan aims to direct a significant amount of state monies to address youth mental-health needs.

Elements of the plan include expanding mental health programs in schools, growing tele-behavioral health operations in high schools and college campuses, and creating more than 30 mobile crisis centers,

Along with better access to mental-health services, Cruser pointed out more open conversations about mental health eliminated the stigmas attached to it. He added as mental health stigmas go away, there will be more funds put toward them.

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