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Editorial: A step forward for mental health

Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 12:06 pm

The implementation of a crisis assessment center at Memorial Regional Medical Center for patients in need of mental health intervention or help is a great achievement and one local officials deserve a solid round of applause for.

In addition to meeting a local need, the facility is funded through 2016. A $450,000 grant secured by Ivy Sager and her team at the Community Services Board will fund the crisis center for its first two years. It should be up and running by September.

Overall, the new facility could help prevent situations where an individual is endangering themselves or those around them. Too often, we hear of situations where help was not there. Too often, we weep over the outcome.

We saw this with the near-fatal stabbing of State Sen. Creigh Deeds by his son who had just been released from emergency custody after mental health officials failed to find a facility to house him. After the attack Deeds’ son committed suicide.

The incident shined a light on the problems plaguing Virginia’s mental health system, specifically, when it comes to emergency situations.

Deeds was recently named the chairman of a new panel tasked with reviewing the state’s mental health system. The panel was the result of one of several bills aimed at mental health reform that managed to make its way through the General Assembly this year.

We look forward to further legislation, as well.

With the recent approval, Hanover County joins metro-Richmond localities Chesterfield and Henrico as counties with crisis centers; 11 other Virginia communities have similar facilities.

Hopefully, more will come in the commonwealth as the panel reviewing the state’s mental health system identifies its shortcomings.