At the 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly, the Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the 21st Century was established pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 47. The 12-member Joint Subcommittee was directed to review the laws of the Commonwealth governing the provision of mental health services, including involuntary commitment of persons in need of mental health care, and recommend statutory or regulatory changes to improve access to services, the quality of services, and outcomes for individuals in need of services.
The Joint Subcommittee elected Senator R. Creigh Deeds and Delegate Robert B. Bell, III, as its chairman and vice-chairman, respectively. The Joint Subcommittee held three meetings during the 2014 Interim and five meetings during the 2015 Interim.
During the course of its meetings, the Joint Subcommittee received extensive testimony from numerous individuals with expertise in the field of mental health, including representatives from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, employees from community services boards, sheriffs and other law-enforcement personnel, representatives of various advocacy groups, mental health service providers, and the general public. The Joint Subcommittee also toured numerous facilities around the Commonwealth that provide mental health services.
During the first two years of its study, the Joint Subcommittee concentrated on reviewing the works and recommendations of previous studies and educating its members as to the current state of the provision of mental health services in the Commonwealth. In the second two years of its study, the Joint Subcommittee will utilize this information in order to inform its recommendations as to what services should be provided and the statutory or regulatory changes necessary to improve access to such services by persons who are in need of mental health care.
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