Voices’ Blog

Children’s Mental Health proposed legislation: 2019 session (Updated Feb 22nd)

Posted:  -  By: Ashley Airington

Every year, Voices for Virginia’s Children monitors all legislation introduced to the Virginia General Assembly and advocates for public policies that improve the lives of Virginia’s children. Our children’s mental health legislative advocacy work focuses on 1) increasing access and improving coordination of quality mental health services for children of all ages 2) decreasing the stigma of mental health illness. Here is an overview of mental health legislation impacting children and adolescents introduced during the 2019 general assembly session:


Mental Health Instruction in Schools–SB 1440 (McClellan) and HB 2593 (Rodman)

SB 1440 patron Sen. McClellan with Albemarle high school students

This legislation directs the Board of Education to review and update the health Standards of Learning for students in all grades to include mental health. Legislation passed in 2018 sponsored by Senator Deeds required such review and update only for students in grades nine and 10.

SB 1140 status: Passed the Senate 40-0; Reported from Education (22-Y 0-N); Referred to committee on appropriations; House appropriations elementary and secondary subcommittee laid bill on table (8-Y 0-N) 

HB 2593 status: Passed the subcommittee and reported to appropriations; House Appropriations laid bill on table 6-Y 2-N 


Mental Health First Aid Training in Public Schools- SB 1472 (Deeds) 

Requires each school board to adopt and implement policies that require teachers and other relevant personnel to complete a Mental Health First Aid training or similar program. The bill requires each school board to provide such training and provides that a school board may contract with DBHDS, a community services board, a nonprofit organization, or other certified trainers to provide such training. Check out news coverage here.

Status: Died in subcommittee 


School-based Health Centers Joint Task Force- SB 1195 (Dance) and HB 2006 (Aird)

This legislation directs the children’s cabinet to establish a school-based health centers joint task force that is tasked with:

  1. Assessing the current landscape of school-based services and mental health screening, evaluation, and treatment in school settings;
  2. Develop best practice recommendations for trauma-informed school-based health centers as a vehicle for the provision of both medical and behavioral health delivered in school settings while coordinating with ongoing behavioral health transformation efforts
  3. Developing a plan for establishing a Virginia affiliate member organization, recognized by the national School-Based Health Alliance, for the purposes of providing technical assistance and guidance for localities interested in bolstering or implementing current and future school-based health centers.

We also recommend the task force also include a review of funding mechanisms to support statewide implementation of school-based health centers, as part of its efforts. The bill requires that the task force report its findings by December 1, 2019.

SB 1195 status: Referred to Senate Education and Health Committee; Reported out of Committee with a substitute 15-0; Passed the Senate 40-0; Reported from Health, Welfare and Institutions committee (20-Y 2-N); Passed the House (91-Y 6-N) 


HB 2006 status: Referred to House Rules Subcommittee #1; Bill killed in subcommittee 4-Y 3-N


Commission on Student Behavioral Health – HB 1735 (Robinson) 

A recommendation from the House Select Committee on School Safety, this legislation establishes the Commission on Student Behavioral Health as a legislative branch commission. The purpose of the Commission shall be to:

  1.  Assess the efficacy of developing and implementing a statewide behavioral health and suicide prevention hotline that students may use to report threats of violence or receive real-time counseling services;
  2. Review the current school counselor-to-student ratio, and whether the realignment of counseling responsibilities proposed by the House Select Committee on School Safety is improving schools’ ability to provide counseling services to students;
  3. Review the current roles and responsibilities of school nurses, psychologists, and social workers in schools and determine whether a realignment of responsibilities could improve or streamline behavioral health services offered to students;
  4. Evaluate the efficacy and costs of providing enhanced behavioral health services in schools delivered through partnerships established between school divisions and local departments of social services and community services boards;
  5. Assess the effectiveness of de-escalation and other alternative disciplinary policies when interacting with students suffering from  behavioral health challenges;
  6. Examine the value of additional teacher training requirements on student behavioral health, such as mental health first aid; and examine other topics related to student behavioral health identified by the Commission.

As written, the Commission shall consist of 12 Delegates and 5 Senators. We recommend the commission include stakeholders. This bill has an expiration date of July 1, 2021.

Status: Assigned to House Rules, Sub #1; Subcommittee reported with amendment 6-Y 1-N; Reported from Rules with amendment 15-Y 1-N; Passed House (99-Y 0-N); Reported from Rules with amendments (12-Y 0-N); Reported from Finance with amendment (15-Y 0-N); Passed Senate with amendments (40-Y 0-N); Senate amendments rejected by House (1-Y 99-N); Senate insisted on amendments (40-Y 0-N); Conferees appointed: Delegates: Robinson, Jones, O’Quinn, Torian & Senators: McDougle, Newman, Saslaw 


Health Insurance Credentialing of mental health professionals- SB1685 (Dunnavant)

This bill requires health insurers that credential mental health professionals in their provider networks to establish protocols and procedures for reimbursing a mental health professional who has submitted a completed credentialing application to a carrier, after being credentialed by the carrier, for mental health services provided to covered persons during the period in which the applicant’s completed credentialing application is pending.

Status: Reported from Committee on Commerce and Labor with a substitute (14-Y 0-N); Passed Senate (40-Y 0-N); Reported from Commerce and Labor (22-Y 0-N); Passed House Block vote #1 and #2


Health Regulatory Boards and Conversion Therapy- SB1773 (Dunnavant) 

This bill directs the Board of Counseling, the Board of Medicine, the Board of Nursing, the Board of Psychology, and the Board of Social Work to each promulgate regulations or guidance documents defining conversion therapy and the unprofessional conduct in the practice of conversion therapy with any person under 18 years of age.

Status: Referred to Committee on Education and Health; Passed by indefinitely in Education and Health (13-Y 1-N) 

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