Twitter: vakids

Mental Health

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Children’s mental health needs were steadily increasing prior to the pandemic and have been declared a national emergency by the U.S. Surgeon General.


The Virginia Youth Survey reports the rate of students feeling hopeless increased seven percentage points from 2011 to 2019, with one in three students feeling sad or hopeless every day for two weeks or more. Girls and students who identified as LGBTQ+ were more likely to express mental health concerns.

Children in Virginia should have a continuum of mental health services allowing them to receive support whenever they need it, wherever they live, and as soon as mental health concerns arise. Currently, help can vary based on geography, age, and the ability of local providers to innovate and grow.

The full system will require collaboration among our Medicaid agencies, private insurance companies, public mental health systems, outpatient centers, residential settings, schools, and community providers. There are many moving parts in this system, but only one answer as to how we meet these needs: urgency.


Our Priorities:

  1. Attract and retain a diverse and well-supported behavioral health workforce.
  2. Fully leverage Medicaid reimbursement rates to ensure services are available for economically disadvantaged children and youth by raising reimbursement rates, continuing to build out evidence-based practices, and providing behavioral health services prior to diagnosis.
  3. Ensure new services and initiatives are designed and implemented with consideration of the needs of children and young people, and when feasible, include their input in design.


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Track legislative progress via our 2023 Bill Tracker.

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For more information, email

Download our one-pager, “The Time is Now: Responding to the Youth Mental Health Crisis”:

button that says download pdfDownload our one-pager, “Healing for the Healers: Youth Mental Health Services Advocacy Day”, in collaboration with ChildSavers:

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