Same day access for mental health services

Published 9:42 am Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the redistricting case on Monday. We are confident that the Supreme Court will not allow the remedial map the court has adopted to stand and will uphold the constitutionally-adopted map that passed the General Assembly in 2011.

We are continuing to fight for the 2011 redistricting plan that was passed by the General Assembly with bipartisan support, including Governor Ralph Northam, signed into law, and approved by President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice.

Regardless of what the electoral map looks like in 2019, Republicans are prepared to defend and rebuild our majority in the House.

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) announced that all 40 Community Services Boards (CSBs) in the Commonwealth have Same Day Access (SDA) available to Virginians seeking mental health services in their communities. A person in need of a mental health evaluation can now access walk-in hours at any CSB throughout Virginia without an appointment, instead of waiting days or even weeks to receive an assessment. SDA marks a dramatic shift from addressing mental health needs only when a crisis occurs to utilizing preventive care to help avoid emergencies and hospital admissions.

SDA allows a person who calls or appears at a CSB during SDA hours of operation to be assessed that same day instead of potentially waiting weeks for a mental health appointment. Based on that assessment, the person is then scheduled for appropriate initial treatment within 10 days. This best practice virtually eliminates “no show” appointments, increases adherence to follow up appointments, reduces the wait time for appointments, and makes more cost-effective use of staff resources. These results help Virginians access mental health care services right where they live with as few barriers as possible.

SDA is the first step in DBHDS’ System Transformation Excellence and Performance (STEP-VA), an innovative initiative for individuals with behavioral health disorders featuring a uniform set of required services, consistent quality measures, and improved oversight in all Virginia communities. The next steps currently underway are implementing of primary care screening and monitoring at all CSBs, phasing in a statewide expansion of outpatient services at all CSBs, and planning for the acceleration of STEP-VA crisis services at CSBs statewide.

CSBs function as the single points of entry into publicly funded behavioral health and developmental services, including access to state hospital services through pre-admission screening, case management and coordination of services, and discharge planning for individuals leaving state facilities. CSBs advocate for individuals who are receiving or are in need of services. CSBs also act as community educators, organizers, and planners and advise their member governments about local behavioral health and developmental services and needs.

DEL. C. MATTHEW FARRIS represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.