Virginia Senate passes mental health reforms

BIll mandating updates to Virginia mental health system passes unanimously


The Virginia Senate unanimously passed SB 260 Monday — a bill which aims to reform the state’s mental health system.

Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Charlottesville, introduced the landmark legislation last month following an attack in November, when he was stabbed by his son Gus, who then committed suicide.

The day before the incident, Gus checked into Bath Community Hospital for an emergency health evaluation. Gus was released from the hospital when no psychiatric bed was available in the facility.

Multiple nearby hospitals later said they were never contacted and had beds available at the time.

The bill mandates the creation of an online psychiatric bed registry, which would “provide real-time information on the availability of beds in public and private psychiatric facilities,” according to the legislation.

The bill further states that in the event the doctor in charge of a mental health evaluation is unable to find a facility to house a patient, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services is required to find an appropriate facility or house the patient in a Department facility.

The bill would also extend the amount of time a person can be involuntarily detained from six to 24 hours.

The House of Delegates will read the bill for the first time Wednesday.

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