Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) is supporting Prince William County’s efforts to build a crisis stabilization center, asking Virginia’s House Finance Committee Chair Luke Torian (D-Prince William) to use federal COVID-19 relief to help fund the project.
“The impacts of mental health have major reverberations throughout our communities. From students experiencing anxiety and intense loneliness due to extended virtual learning, to extreme cases of depression as a result of a veteran’s PTSD, the need for effective and available mental health services to support those suffering from a mental health crisis or occurrence is a critical necessity,” Wittman wrote in an October 27 letter announced in a Friday press release.
Virginia has been facing a capacity crisis in its state-owned mental health hospitals, leading to a lack of space for new patients, overwhelming emergency departments and law enforcement.
“From January through March 2021, Prince William County public safety officers spent 3,003 hours waiting for individuals under Emergency Custody Orders to be evaluated for inpatient hospitalization,” Wittman said.
In July, the county Board of Supervisors, led by Supervisor Andrea Bailey, announced plans to create a 26,300 square foot 24-hour crisis stabilization unit, according to Inside Nova. The program was estimated to require $6.4 million to build, and would cost $17.3 million to operate yearly. According to The Washington Post, Bailey said that without state funding the project could go unfunded until summer 2022.
The supervisors asked Governor Ralph Northam to allocate some American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for community mental health centers; the final version of the ARPA spending bill included $10 million for expanding community-based crisis services, including mobile services and crisis receiving facilities.
Bailey lists mental health as one of her top issues on her website.
“Nearly every sector of our hospital system, public safety and social services network has seen firsthand the increase in the need for mental health services and has experienced the challenges of negotiating the lack of access for these services,” Bailey said in a July press release, according to The Prince William Times. “A crisis receiving center in Prince William County will alleviate the lack of access and provide much needed resources for residents suffering from mental illness and or addiction.”
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