Mental Health

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Virginia’s systems of care prioritize young people and take a holistic approach to healing and mental well-being. 

Young people’s mental health needs were steadily increasing prior to the pandemic and since have been declared a national emergency.  

In Virginia, young people have been advocating tirelessly for a transformation of the youth mental health system. According to Mental Health America, Virginia is currently ranked 48th in the nation for access to youth mental health care, highlighting the importance of continuing to put pressure on our General Assembly to center young people, their families, and their communities in addressing the mental health crisis of Virginia’s young people.  

Our state has been navigating the fallout of COVID-19 on the mental health of all Virginians by building out a more comprehensive crisis system; however, action to address concerningly high need of emergency mental health support for young people has been inadequate. Prioritizing youth specific mental health care across the continuum of prevention, crisis, and recovery, is imperative.  

A comprehensive youth mental health system requires streamlining local, state, and federal funding, supporting a diverse, culturally responsive, and trauma-informed workforce, and a commitment of collaboration between Medicaid agencies, private insurance companies, public mental health systems, outpatient centers, residential settings, schools, community providers, young people and their families. 

 Our Priorities: 

  1. Attract and retain a culturally diverse behavioral health workforce that is representative of our young people and well-supported by Virginia’s behavioral health system; we do not just need more people doing the work, we need different people in the work. 
  2. Permanently integrate school-based mental health services while utilizing youth and community input and engagement to inform the development and implementation of school-based mental health programs.  
  3. Ensure Medicaid reimbursement rates reflect the value of our behavioral health workforce within the community and our schools by guaranteeing appropriate compensation across all systems and leveraging the “Free Care Rule” when working within schools.  
  4. Ensure crisis response and stabilization services are inclusive of young people, centering their specific developmental needs when designing and implementing new units and protocols.  


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For more information, contact Cat Atkinson.