Governor Glenn Youngkin today rolled out a plan to provide improved and more expeditious mental health services to those in need – calling it “Right Help, Right Now.” It involves getting more Virginians into mental health treatment sooner, reducing the burden on law enforcement agencies, expanding school-based programs and providing more funds for those that pursue a career in mental health services.  Expanding community services, keeping those in a mental health crisis away from Hospital Emergency Rooms – and out of jail – are also goals. Youngkin says the budget he will propose to the General Assembly for the next fiscal year will seek additional funding for his mental health plan.

(Press release)

RICHMOND, VA – Governor Glenn Youngkin today unveiled his three-year plan to transform Virginia’s behavioral health system, entitled “Right Help, Right Now.” This is a six-pillared approach to address our behavioral health challenges, encompassing crisis care, law enforcement burden, substance use disorder support, behavioral health workforce and service delivery innovation. The current behavioral health system is being overwhelmed and failing to meet the needs of Virginians in crisis with an outdated model of care that relies too heavily on hospitals. Year one of this three-year comprehensive plan invests over $230 million in Virginia’s behavioral health system, which will be proposed in the Governor’s budget amendments on Thursday.

“We are facing a behavioral health crisis across Virginia and the United States. This crisis is present throughout our society, at home, in schools and in the workplace. The three-year ‘Right Help, Right Now’ vision to revolutionize our behavioral health delivery system starts with a giant leap forward offered in my amended budget. It’s crucial that we get this moving, right now,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “We incorporated best-in-class models of behavioral health from across the country. This is a top priority for my administration, and we will not stop until we have a system that delivers the “Right Help, Right Now” to the people who need it most.”

“Right Help, Right Now’ is a bold step forward in our ongoing service to Virginians,” said First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin. “Prioritizing care for the most vulnerable, particularly our youth, is critical, and I look forward to supporting this cross-secretariat, transformational advancement in behavioral health.”

“This is a massive undertaking of the entire behavioral health system and continuum of care. Every Virginian needs to know who to call, who will help and where to go in a crisis, and we are working to rebuild a holistic system that does so,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources John Littel. “Typically, mental health efforts in the Commonwealth only last one year and target a single area of the problem. We have a multi-year plan that takes on every facet of the system. This is the first time Virginia is doing this.”

Governor Youngkin will propose a series of immediate steps to bolster his three-year transformation plan, including over $230 million in new funding for behavioral health in his upcoming budget on Thursday. The centerpiece of these proposals will include a $20 million proposal to fully-fund 30+ new mobile crisis teams to respond to calls to Virginia’s 9-8-8 hotline. With this new funding, the Governor’s commitment to behavioral health will top $660 million in the next fiscal year.

Included in the Governor’s budget is:

  • $20 million to fund 30+ new mobile crisis teams, meeting our statewide goal in the first year, to respond to 9-8-8 hotline calls
  • $58 million to increase the number of Crisis Receiving Centers and Crisis Stabilization Units, fully-funding the number of necessary centers in Southwest Virginia and Hampton Roads
  • $15 million to expand the elementary, middle, and high school-based mental health program to dozens of new communities
  • $9 million to expand tele-behavioral health services in public schools and on college campuses
  • $20 million for partnerships with hospitals for alternatives to emergency departments for crisis
  • $9 million for transportation and in-hospital monitoring by law enforcement and other personnel
  • $8 million for Serious Mental Illness housing, creating 100 new placements for SMI patients with extraordinary barriers to discharge
  • $57 million for 500 additional Medicaid Waiver Priority 1 Waitlist Slots and increased provider rates including respite and companion services
  • $15 million in opioid abatement initiatives including a campaign to reduce fentanyl poisoning among our youth

“I appreciate the Governor’s attention to improving our crisis system. As the Chair of the Behavioral Health Commission, I look forward to partnering with the Administration on these issues. We must meet the moment with urgency. People’s lives are at stake,” said Senator Creigh Deeds. Properly funded, staffed and located, regional crisis centers can play an important role in meeting a crisis, and removing stress from the rest of the system. Because every Virginian should have access to the quality services they need, regardless of their zip code. This is a step in the right direction, but we need to do more.”

“This plan will improve crisis care by expanding capacity for those in immediate need while also helping Virginians before they reach the crisis point. I’m hopeful that we can make a real difference for those who are most in need,” said Delegate Rob Bell.

The “Right Help, Right Now” Six Pillars:

1. First, we must strive to ensure same-day care for individuals experiencing behavioral health crises.

2. Second, we must relieve the law enforcement community’s burden and reduce the criminalization of mental health.

3. Third, we must develop more capacity throughout the system, going beyond hospitals, especially community-based services.

4. Fourth, we must provide targeted support for substance use disorder and efforts to prevent overdose.

5. Fifth, we must make the behavioral health workforce a priority, particularly in underserved communities.

6. Sixth, we must identify service innovations and best practices in pre-crisis prevention services, crisis care, post-crisis recovery and support and develop tangible and achievable means to close capacity gaps.