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Advocacy Day 2020

Written by Bruce Cruser

Bruce Cruser has been Executive Director of Mental Health Virginia since 2016, bringing a background in social work and community corrections, and many years of leadership experience in local and state government.

February 6, 2020

There was a mother who lost her son to addiction and suicide. A Navy veteran described not being able to find help when discharged from service. The Occupational Therapist spoke of overwhelming workloads providing early intervention support for children.  

There were peer specialists and trauma survivors, people in recovery from opioid addiction or hospitalization for depression. Child advocates were there, clinicians, grandfathers, a professor, a minister. Social work students came from Harrisonburg by bus. A mother brought her son along to learn how government works.

It was Mental Health Advocacy Day at the Virginia Legislature.

More than 100 of us, from all over the state, met with delegates and senators to tell our story and ask for their support to improve Virginia’s ranking from 41st in the country in access to mental health care. We encouraged full funding for Virginia’s community mental health system, the 40 local Community Services Boards.

We pointed out pending budget amendments to provide a behavioral health loan repayment program, to help recruit a mental health and substance use workforce to locate in under-served communities. 

We explained the need to increase the Medicaid reimbursement rates for mental health professionals to equal that of Medicare and private insurance, so more of them can take Medicaid cases. Responses were respectful, and generally encouraging. 

Ultimately, the act of participation itself was empowering. In the company of others it felt safe, energizing, and hopeful.  Thank you advocates!

Bruce Cruser, Executive Director

Virginia Mental Health Advocacy Day – February 5, 2020 Voices for Virginia’s Children, National Alliance on Mental Illness – Virginia, VOCAL ( Virginia Organization of Consumers Asserting Leadership), SAARA Virginia (Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance), Mental Health America of Virginia

Bruce Cruser, Executive Director”/”

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