Virginia mental health needs

In a statement entitled “A proposal that would assist troubled youths in Virginia” the Washington Post editorial board lent its support to efforts to fund mental health services for children and youth. The editorial, published 11 January 2012, recounted a history of rueful cost cutting and encouraging advocacy in my commonwealth.

A YEAR AGO, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) proposed slashing millions of dollars from the state’s already badly fragmented and underfunded programs for at-risk children and teenagers. The cuts targeted funding for specially trained foster families and other services for children, including some who posed a danger of violence to themselves and others. The cuts were rejected, and funding restored, thanks to a bipartisan group of lawmakers responding to an outcry from advocacy groups and local governments, which would have borne the brunt of the governor’s proposal. In the end, the debate turned a useful spotlight on a critical hole in the state’s social services safety net.

The Post editorial team explained that the current budget does not contain such cost-cutting measures, but that difficulties for mental health services persist because of other problems (e.g., local government fiscal shortages). In the end, the need for services is great and, as the editorial shows, the need for serious discussion about funding of them is clear. Read the full editorial on the Post’s Web site.

If you’re in Virginia and you can make it to Richmond, join Voices for Virginia’s Campaign for Children’s Mental Health for “Advocacy Day at the General Assembly” Thursday 26 January 2012. If you live somewhere else, scout about for ways you can help support mental health services in your local or regional government.

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