Gov. McAuliffe signs bill aimed at improving mental health, substance abuse treatment

(WRIC)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Terry McAuliffe on Monday signed three different bills aimed at improving mental health and substance abuse treatment.

“There are a lot of individuals who need help and a lot of people have fallen through the cracks,” McAuliffe at a bill signing in Chesterfield County on Monday.

After signing three different bills, the governor and lawmakers are hoping to fill those cracks and provide better mental health and substance abuse services throughout the state. One bill will require Community Services Boards, public mental health and substance abuse facilities, to offer same-day mental health screenings to those in need.

One bill will require Community Services Boards, public mental health and substance abuse facilities, to offer same-day mental health screenings to those in need.

“That means when someone decides to seek help, that they can come right in, they can talk to someone immediately and get an appointment for the key clinical services that they desperately need,” McAuliffe explained.

The governor also mentioned the case of Jamycheal Mitchell as he signed another bill into law. Mitchell, who had a mental illness, was arrested after stealing $5 worth of junk food from a 7-11. Mitchell never received treatment and later starved to death inside jail.

“The scary thing about Jamycheal Mitchell is that everybody, the cops, everybody in the court, everybody in the csb already knew him. They knew he didn’t belong in jail,” said Senator Creigh Deeds, chair of the state’s mental health commission.

A bill signed by the governor will require an inmate to get mental health treatment within 10 days if ordered by a judge.

“Folks who are in jail but should be getting treatment end up as you know staying in jail entirely too long,” said McAuliffe.

Community Services Boards will have some time to comply. Some of the requirements go into effect in 2019, others by 2021.

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