Tag Archive: crisis

  1. Take Action for more funding!

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    In the 2015 General Assembly session, the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health is once again at the forefront, advocating for a stronger mental health system for children. Our priority this year continues to be building on the system of community-based crisis response services and child psychiatry. We have successfully advocated for funding the last three sessions to start and enhance these services in all five health planning regions of the state. Funds are being used to provide faster access to psychiatrists in person and through telepsychiatry, as well as to provide mobile crisis teams and residential and day crisis stabilization services.

    Where services exist, they are making a huge difference. The problem is that the $4.15 million currently available in the budget for this purpose are inadequate to meet the need. The funds are supposed to increase to $4.65 million in FY16 — an improvement — but still a small amount of funding to reach kids in every corner of the Commonwealth who have serious mental health challenges.

    This year, Senators Hanger and Howell and Delegate Yost have introduced budget amendments to enhance the services statewide by $2.5 million in FY16. We need all advocates for children’s mental health to reach out to their legislators and ask them to support these amendments: Item 308 #1s and #8s in the Senate, and Item 308 #6h in the House.


    You can find one-page information sheets to use in your advocacy here:

    Senate One-Pager

    House One-Pager

    Thanks to our Campaign Steering Committee partners National Alliance on Mental Illness – Virginia, Mental Health America- Virginia, and the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards for their collaboration. Thanks also to all the children’s mental health advocates who attended Mental Health Advocacy Day at the Capitol on January 19!

  2. Campaign Testifies in Senate Finance Subcommittee

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    On January 13, Voices’ executive director Margaret Nimmo Crowe and Campaign volunteer and parent advocate Cristy Gallagher testified before the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Health and Human Resources on the need for more funding for children’s mental health services. Specifically, they were asked to comment on the Governor’s proposed budget items dealing with mental health.

    Margaret testified that the Campaign supports the new funding to provide services to older teens and young adults with mental illness and believes that funding ought to be used to support evidence-based and evidence-informed services and supports. She also noted, however, that the proposed budget contains no other new funding for the child mental health system, and access to treatment remains a significant problem. The Campaign is recommending that additional funding be allocated to strengthening the crisis response programs begun in the last two years. You can read Margaret’s testimony here.

    Cristy shared her family’s experiences in the child mental health system and the need for a comprehensive array of services. She testified that many families are not as fortunate as her own in their ability to find and pay for necessary treatment. She urged the senators to remember her family and the thousands like it in Virginia when making decisions about Virginia’s next budget. You can read Cristy’s testimony here.

    Campaign steering committee members NAMI Virginia and the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards also provided testimony about their reactions to the Governor’s budget and the needs of Virginia’s mental health system. Their testimony and other presentations from the meeting can be found on the Senate Finance website.

    Many thanks to Cristy for traveling from Fairfax to share her experience with our legislators!

  3. General Assembly Approves Budget: More for Children’s Mental Health!

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    We have some great news! The General Assembly included increased funding for children’s mental health services, as well as prevention and awareness programs. This past Saturday was a busy day in Richmond with both the House and Senate tying up all of the loose ends of the 2013 Session and wanting to adjourn on time. There were last minute maneuvers on the budget, but in the end there were important victories for Virginia’s children. Now that it is approved the General Assembly, the budget will go to the Governor for final approval. We do not expect any changes in these items.


    The conference budget included an additional $1.9 million in FY14 for children’s crisis response services and child psychiatry (Item 315 #4c). This total includes the $1 million added by the Governor and the $900,000 approved by the General Assembly. This amount is in addition to the $1.75 million included in the FY14 budget during the 2012 session that will continue to be awarded to the three regions currently funded, bringing the statewide total to $3.65 million.


    The conference budget also includes funding for two training and awareness programs recommended by the Governor’s School Safety Task Force:

    Mental Health First Aid received $600,000 in FY14 (Item 315 #2c). Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a 12-hour interactive course that teaches the risk factors and warning signs and symptoms of mental health disorders to clergy, teachers, health professionals, and others.

    -Suicide prevention efforts received $500,000 in FY14 (Item 314 #3c). Funds will go to DBHDS to collaborate with several other state agencies for a comprehensive suicide prevention plan.

    Unfortunately, none of the language amendments we supported were included in the final budget. We will continue to advocate for these items, such as improving the quality of Medicaid mental health services, through other channels.

    Thank you to all of you who contacted your legislators during this session to talk to them about the importance of addressing children’s mental health. Slowly but surely, we are raising awareness of this issue and the need to make services available to the children and families who need them.

    To learn about other kids’ issues in the budget, you can go to Voices for Virginia’s Children’s website.

  4. Children’s Mental Health Budget Amendments

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    House and Senate budget amendments are now available online. We are busy reviewing amendments relevant to children’s issues. Here are the most relevant amendments related to children’s mental health. You can access all of the amendments on the State Budget website.

    Expanded Children’s Crisis Response and Child Psychiatry Services

    • This is the top funding priority of Voices’ Campaign for Children’s Mental Health.
    • Gov. McDonnell included $1 million in his budget amendments.
    • Both the House and Senate members put in amendments to add $450,000 to this amount:
      • Item 315 #6h adds $450,000 to this amount in FY14 (Patron: O’Bannon; Co-patrons: Bell (Richard), Brink, Dance, Farrell, Hope, Ingram, Jones, Landes, McClellan, Peace, Watts, Yost)
      • Item 315 #3s (Howell) and Item 315 #9s (Patron: Hanger; Co-patrons: Ebbin, Favola, Herring, Howell, Norment, Saslaw, Vogel, Watkins) add $450,000 in FY14

     Quality Improvement of Medicaid Children’s Mental Health Services

    • Item 307 #37s (Hanger) This language amendment requires the Department of Medical Assistance Services, in consultation with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to conduct a review of Medicaid-funded children’s mental health services to ensure the provision of evidence-based, cost-effective treatment to children in need of services. The Department shall submit its findings and any recommendations no later than November 1, 2013.
    • This item is partially a result of recommendations made by Voices for Virginia’s Children in its white paper released in July 2012: Intensive In-Home Services for Children’s Mental Health in Virginia: Time to Focus on Quality

     Additional Budget Amendments Related to Children’s Mental Health

    • Item 283 #1h (Bell, Richard) and Item 283 #2h (Lingamfelter) and Item 283 #1s (Edwards) and Item 283 #2s (Colgan) are language amendments requiring the Office of Comprehensive Services to reinvest unappropriated balances at the end of each fiscal year to address service gaps in the CSA program based on recommendations from the State Executive Council.
    • Item 282 #2s (Herring) is a language amendment requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and the Secretary of Education to collaborate on a review of the relationship between the Commonwealth’s community-based mental health services system and schools and provide recommendations by Nov 1, 2013.
    • Item 315 #3h (Krupicka) and Item 315 #8s (Howell) add $2.5 million in FY14 to community services boards to provide Mental Health First Aid for the community, including school employees.

    We will keep you updated on these and other amendments, as well as opportunities to advocate for these issues.

  5. WCVE Story on Kids’ Crisis Services 1.14.13

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    On Monday, January 14, 2013, WCVE radio, the Richmond-area NPR station, ran an in-depth story on the use of the children’s crisis intervention funding provided by the General Assembly in 2012. Reporter Craig Carper toured the crisis stabilization unit at St. Joseph’s Villa, and the story features Campaign Coordinator Margaret Nimmo Crowe and Mary Ann Bergeron, executive director of Campaign partner the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards. The story also highlights the need for additional funding to make these services available in other parts of the state.

    Listen to the story “State Invests in Children’s Mental Health” to learn more.

  6. Richmond Times-Dispatch: New crisis-stabilization unit

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    The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s front page featured an article about the new crisis stabilization unit at St. Joseph’s Villa in Richmond today, January 2, 2013. The program is part of the regional children’s mental health project funded by the General Assembly last session. The Campaign for Children’s Mental Health led the advocacy effort for this funding. Read about the results!

  7. Good news in Governor’s budget!

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    We are excited to report that Governor McDonnell’s budget includes an additional $1 million for children’s mental health crisis services and child psychiatry for fiscal year 2014. This will be in addition to the $1.75 million allocated by the General Assembly last session for fiscal year 2014.

    Our hope is that the funding will help expand these services to the two areas of the state that were not funded in the first round: Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. We will be seeking budget amendments to increase that amount for 2014 so that it allows those regions to fully implement the plans they submitted to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services last summer.

    Stay tuned for more details on the budget as we continue with our analysis.

    And remember, you can speak out about the importance of this funding at the regional budget hearings in January 4 or at Children’s Mental Health Advocacy Day at the Capitol on January 24!

  8. Need help? Crisis Planning for Families on Dec 3

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    Voices for Virginia’s Children and its Campaign for Children’s Mental Health are pleased to be partnering with NAMI Virginia‘s Virginia Family Network to host a training for families of children with mental health needs on crisis planning. We hear often from parents and other family members that they did not know what to do when a child’s condition deteriorated to the point of crisis. Parents, siblings and everyone in the household can be affected, so it helps to plan ahead. We’ll have a panel of speakers to address how to avoid a crisis if at all possible, how to plan in case there is one, and what resources are available in the Richmond area.

    Here are the details:

    Crisis Planning for Families

    of Children with Mental Health Needs

    Monday, December 3, 2012

    5:30-8:00 p.m.

    Weinstein JCC

    5403 Monument Ave, Richmond, VA 23226

      Panel includes mental health clinicians, a police officer trained in crisis response, a parent and a youth. Come with questions!

     The training is FREE and dinner is included. Child care stipends and travel reimbursements are available, but you must register!

     Please register at:


    Questions? Please contact Stephany Melton Hardison at the Virginia Family Network (smelton@namivirginia.org or 804-285-8264 x206) or Margaret Nimmo Crowe at the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health (margaret@vakids.org or 804-649-0184 x23).

    If you would like to distribute hard copies of a flyer about this training, we have one available to download: Crisis Planning Flyer

    Special thanks to the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services for their generous support of this training.

  9. Your Advocacy Made New Crisis Services a Reality

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    We have exciting news to share about children’s mental health! The funding allocated by the General Assembly last session for children’s crisis response services and child psychiatry has now been awarded to three regions of community services boards in Virginia. The Greater Richmond area (Region IV), the Lynchburg/Central Virginia area (Region I), and southwest Virginia (portions of the very large and rural Region III) submitted successful applications to the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

    The funding, $1.5 million for the fiscal year that began July 1, will allow the community services boards in these areas, along with private partners in some cases, to augment the existing crisis services for children. The purpose of the funding is to help maintain children in their own homes and communities and to avoid inpatient hospitalization whenever possible.

    Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to visit St. Joseph’s Villa, the site of Region IV’s crisis stabilization unit. The unit was first opened in May with other regional funds, and it has already served more than 20 children in psychiatric crisis. The new funding allows the unit to add a mobile crisis team to respond to kids in their own homes. Clinicians responding to the call can then determine whether the situation can be resolved in the home or whether the child needs to go to the crisis stabilization unit for a few days.

    It is wonderful to see the collaboration that is happening among the community services boards in these regions and with private providers, all to provide a stronger array of community-based mental health services to children. I look forward to visiting the other regions of the state that were awarded funds and hearing about the progress! I’ll keep you posted.

    This funding would not have been possible without Campaign supporters like you. More than 2,000 Virginians signed the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health petition to Gov. McDonnell and the legislature to increase access to these services for children. Hundreds of you sent emails to the legislators crafting the budget to emphasize the importance of helping children with mental health disorders access the treatment they need, and many of you visited the General Assembly with us on Advocacy Day.

    You also responded when we asked for hand-written thank you notes to these legislators. The Campaign has delivered packets of these thank you notes to key legislators as we have attended legislative meetings and forums this summer. Taking the time to educate our policy makers about the importance of mental health treatment and then thanking them when they respond is what advocacy is all about!  Raising your voice for children with serious mental health disorders is making a difference—thank you.



  10. Stressed to the breaking point

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    The following blog post was written by Margaret Nimmo Crowe, Campaign Coordinator, for the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s blog, Pundits’ Podium.

    Consider the stress you would feel as the parent of an eight-year-old child with bipolar disorder, who has just been suspended from school for hitting his teachers and is going into a rage directed at you and his younger sister.

    What would you do? Who could you call for help?

    Sadly, you would not have many options in most parts of Virginia. Calling the police could lead to your child being driven to the hospital in handcuffs, a potentially traumatizing experience. The emergency room might not have a psychiatric bed; you could end up sending your child halfway across the state for treatment.

    What if the children’s mental health system could provide better options for you and your child? What if it could prevent that ride in the back of a police car for your eight-year-old? What if it could avoid hospitalizing him at all?

    Reducing our reliance on hospital-based crisis care is important because there simply aren’t enough facilities for the estimated 100,000 Virginia children with serious mental illness. Nor is it in the child’s best interest to leave his community for treatment. Research shows it is far more effective to treat children with mental health problems in their communities near their schools, families and friends.

    The stress on Virginia’s families and on the children’s mental health system is nowhere more apparent than at the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents (CCCA) in Staunton. CCCA, the last remaining state-run children’s psychiatric hospital, is the last resort for kids who cannot be admitted to private hospitals.

    Waitlists for beds at CCCA over the past several months indicate a system that is stressed to the breaking point. Discharges are delayed when clinicians cannot arrange for adequate services back home. Meanwhile, demand is increasing, causing a backup. One distressing trend is the increasing number of kids being readmitted; without adequate resources for help at home, they end up back in crisis.

    Better options exist. The Richmond-area Community Services Boards (the public mental health system), in partnership with the private, nonprofit St. Joseph’s Villa, opened a children’s crisis stabilization unit five weeks ago.  So far, ten children have been treated there, with the frequent involvement and support of their families. Clinicians are only able to transport children from their homes if they live in Richmond, Chesterfield or Henrico, but the program serves children from the entire region, including Goochland, Petersburg, Farmville, and Hanover.

    When a child is in crisis, a clinician goes to his home to assess and counsel both child and family. If needed, the clinician can take the child to the new six-bed home at St. Joseph’s Villa for up to two weeks, avoiding hospitalization. For one child, the home has served as an effective transition service after psychiatric hospitalization. Treatment is available to children regardless of insurance status.

    This year, Virginia lawmakers allocated more than $3 million so more communities can start or expand crisis services like this one. It is not enough funding for services across the Commonwealth, but it’s a big step in the right direction and a welcome development for stressed families trying to help their children with mental illness.