Governor Highlights Improvements to Mental Health System in Budget Proposal

Dec 14, 2016


Virginia's Governor Terry McAuliffe at the capitol this week.
Credit Steve Helber / AP

As lawmakers gear up for the legislative session beginning in January, Governor Terry McAuliffe is prepping his agenda. Wednesday, he rolled out a suite of ideas for how to improve the state’s mental health system. 


The Governor’s biggest mechanism to influence the legislative agenda is through his budget proposal, and this year he’d like to see more of it go towards helping people with serious mental illness and drug addiction. 

That includes funding for mental health screenings in jails, and enough money to ensure same-day appointments with a mental health specialist for people suffering a crisis.

Governor Terry McAuliffe also honed in on ways to tackle the growing opioid addiction crisis. 

“We anticipate fatal opioid overdoses for the first time this year will now go over 1,000," said the Governor during a press conference Wednesday. "That’s more deaths than we have from guns, that is more deaths than we have from car crashes.”

Learn More: Our Series 'Reforming Mental Healthcare in the Commonwealth'

McAuliffe wants to provide additional funds for medication to treat people with an addiction, a key to helping them recover. His agenda also includes a 3-day limit on emergency room prescriptions for opioid pain medication.

The proposals total around $32 million, and include a two year, $4.5 million study of the state’s entire drug treatment and mental health systems.