Governor Glenn Youngkin has signed twenty-four bills as part of his historic Right Help, Right Now plan, aimed at strengthening insurance coverage for behavioral health services for Virginians, reducing the burden on law enforcement and enhancing the behavioral health workforce.
Governor Youngkin was joined at Fauquier Health Hospital by legislators, local law enforcement, health care leaders, and behavioral health care advocates from across the Commonwealth. The bills signed into law address important issues like wait times for individuals being held under a Temporary Detention Order (TDO), coverage by private health insurance for mobile crisis teams, and efforts to bolster the behavioral health care workforce.
“Virginians deserve same-day behavioral health services in their moment of need, and yet many people find themselves waiting days for a bed to become available. When you need help, every moment matters. At times, that care arrives too late,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Due to inadequate capacity and outdated laws, our law enforcement heroes often stay with patients in emergency rooms while they are waiting for care. I’m grateful to the General Assembly for helping us honor our commitment to ensuring every Virginian experiencing a behavioral health crisis will know who to call, and where to go for access to behavioral health care.”
“Virginians have become too familiar with the tragic loss of a loved one due to a mental health or substance use crisis,” said First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin. “Our work together will create a continuum of care that spans prevention, crisis and recovery services. Every single Virginian has a role to play in the important work to destigmatize behavioral health and know what to do in a crisis.”
“It is just that we address the growing needs and prioritize care before a crisis devastates a family, a scenario that sadly, my family has experienced. I am thankful for the Governor’s leadership and the work of the General Assembly in passing practical legislation to help those in need,” said Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears.
“We are taking important steps forward today to get us closer to our goal of ensuring every person in Virginia has the help they need, right when they need it,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources John Littel. “For far too long, our behavioral health care system has lacked the infrastructure to support the needs of Virginians. While we are only in the first year of our three-year plan, these bills will have a tremendous impact on people in need of care, their loved ones, and their communities.”
“Today we moved a step closer to the quality system that Virginians with behavioral health disorders and their families deserve,” said Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Commissioner Nelson Smith. “The intersection where behavioral health meets other systems like law enforcement, schools, courts, and private hospitals is wide and complex. These bills will improve Virginians experiences when navigating these roads.”
In December 2022, Governor Youngkin unveiled Right Help, Right Now, his three-year plan to transform Virginia’s behavioral health system. Through a six-pillared approach, Right Help, Right Now works to address Virginia’s behavioral health challenges, encompassing crisis care, efforts to reduce law enforcement burden, substance use disorder support, and behavioral health workforce and service delivery innovation.
Today, Governor Youngkin signed the following twenty-four bills:
- HB 1976 (Bell) and SB 1299 (Deeds): Involuntary admission, temporary detention; release of detained individual.
- HB 2313 (Head) and SB 1132 (Peake) Criminal history record information; dissemination.
- HB 2216 (Leftwich) and SB 1347 (Cosgrove) Health insurance; coverage for mobile crisis response services and residential crisis units.
- HB 2165 (Fariss) and SB 1054 (Peake) Interjurisdictional compacts; criminal history background checks.
- HB 2410 (Watts) Duration of involuntary temporary detention.
- SB 872 (Newman) Emergency custody; temporary detention, alternative transportation.
- SB 1043 (McPike) Public education; student mental health and counseling, definitions, licensure requirements.
- HB 1792 (Ransone) and SB 1302 (Deeds) temporary detention in hospital for testing, observation, or treatment.
- HB 2124 (Wilt) School psychologists, staffing flexibility.
- HB 1525 (Coyner) and SB 846 (Favola) Peer recovery specialists; barrier crime exceptions.
- HB 2345 (Head) and SB 1255 (Dunnavant) Smartchart Network Program; renames 33 Emergency Department Care Coordination Program, report.
- HB 2231 (Sickles) Social Work, Board of; expands powers and duties.
- HB 1945 (Durant) Children and adolescents; data reporting, reporting requirements.
- HB 1592 (Davis) and SB 1072 (Bell) Public schools; codes of student conduct, policies and procedures prohibiting bullying.
- HB 2185 (Rasoul) and SB 1169 (Hanger) Community Services Boards and Behavioral Health Authorities; provisions of performance contracts.
In addition to the action taken today, during year one of the comprehensive three-year Right Help, Right Now plan, Governor Youngkin has proposed significant investments in Virginia’s behavioral health system and brought together leaders from across state government to take action on each of the six pillars of the plan.