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Public Awareness Vital to Health Care Expansion, State Budget Debate

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.

March 9, 2018

Public Awareness Vital to Health Care Expansion, State Budget Debate

Mental Health America of Virginia In the News…

  • To boil it down, the reason Virginia’s House and Senate can’t agree on a state budget for the next two years is because they can’t agree on extending basic health care to as many as 400,000 low income people without insurance. With the legislature failing to reach a budget agreement on time, there are more opportunities to let senators and delegates know if you support expansion of Medicaid (as the House of Delegates budget does).

    It’s important to remember why this issue isn’t just a passing fad or a nice thing to have. Access to care and criminalizing mental illness is a national problem, but Virginia is worse off than most of the country when it comes to access to health care and mental health care in the community. We are losing the human potential of thousands of our children and adults who are behind bars, homeless or traumatized. It doesn’t have to be this way.

    The more these issues are covered by the media, the more of us know how important it is for Virginia to change course on mental health. We support increased public awareness any way we can, with a couple of examples below:

      • The March 8, 2018 issue of the Fredericksburg Freelance-Star, featured an editorial about the need for a better mental health care system and less use of incarceration: http://www.fredericksburg.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-more-treatment-less-incarceration-for-mentally-ill/article_a7d9fbbb-518d-59cd-a274-6ddd28e6511c.html#tncms-source=article-nav-next or click here. 
      • At the end of December, WCVE Public Radio (Richmond) interviewed MHAV’s Executive Director in a brief segment about the Mental Health America 2018 State of Mental Health Report, which ranks Virginia 40th among states overall. You can listen here: http://ideastations.org/radio/news/virginias-mental-health-system-ranked-42nd-access-care or see the transcript below:
        “Mental Health America recently released its 2018 State of Mental Health report. Last year, Virginia ranked 38th. This year, the state’s ranking dropped to 40th overall, and 42nd when it comes to access.“It’s certainly abysmal, particularly for youth mental health,” said Bruce Cruser, Executive Director for Mental Health America of Virginia.The Commonwealth fared even worse in terms of its prevalence of untreated youth with depression – ranking 49th. “A lot of it has to do with insurance and access to care,” Cruser said. “Part of it is the lack of trained professionals working in Virginia, particularly for youth. Child psychiatrists, other mental health professionals…there’s a real absence of that in many parts of the state.”According to a 2016 report from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, there are only 13 child and adolescent psychiatrists for every 100,000 children in Virginia.”
  • Click here to read the full report with state rankings.

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