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Youngkin outlines mental health plan

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Governor's office livestream
Governor Glenn Youngkin announces a new mental health plan for Virginia at Parham Doctor's Hospital in Richmond.

Psychiatric beds are not always available to people in Virginia who are in a mental health crisis. Law enforcement officers are asked to handle behavioral issues, and Virginia's jails and prisons are filled with people who need help rather than incarceration. That's why Governor Glenn Youngkin is proposing a plan he says will transform how Virginia handles behavioral health.

"Together we can fundamentally change how the Commonwealth approaches behavioral health, and we must move from slow evolution to accelerated revolution," Youngkin said during a Wednesday announcement in Richmond.

Click here to read the plan

Youngkin calls it the "Righ Help, Right Now" plan. The governor wants to double mobile crisis teams and increase the capacity of crisis receiving centers. He wants to invest in new mobile crisis units and add psychiatric emergency services at hospitals. Plus, he wants to increase the number of crisis receiving centers, especially in Southwest Virginia and Hampton Roads -- regions he says have been left behind.

"Our plan includes more than $100 million in new crisis service funding," Youngkin noted. "We will develop a ‘Crisis Now Virginia’ model of care."

The governor also says he wants to build out a crisis hotline to help serve as an entry point for people who need care now. In Wednesday’s announcement, Youngkin said he wants everyone to know that 988 is the crisis hotline and people can dial up that number if they are in crisis or if they know someone who needs help now.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.