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Lawmakers Have Opportunity to Improve Virginia’s Poor Ranking in Mental Health

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.

January 30, 2018

Virginia’s legislature is considering several bills to help address the barriers to mental health and substance use treatment causing Virginia to rank 40th in the country in overall mental health care. We’re tracking a few of them, and speaking out when we can to support our 2018 Policy Priorities:

  • Increase Access to Community Based Mental Health Care
  • Address the Needs of People with Mental Health Challenges in the Criminal Justice System
  • Expand Peer Support Programs  

You can view our Bill Tracking Log by clicking here. By clicking on the bill number, you can link to the bill itself and check updates, and also get the names of the committee members considering the bill. Some bills are now moving quickly through the process, or failing to advance out of a committee.


We work with our advocacy partners to support many of the same bills, including increasing funding for our public community behavioral health system (Community Services Boards), Permanent Supportive Housing so that more people can live with care in a community setting who would otherwise be in the hospital, discharge planning for individuals in jail with a serious mental illness before being released to the street, and safe alternatives to law enforcement transportation for adults and children in mental health crisis.


The Medicaid and other health care expansion bills include several versions and moving parts, so many people are simply reminding lawmakers that providing insurance coverage to more Virginians saves lives, and should be the major priority. You can find out who your delegate or senator is and how to contact them here:


We support many of the proposed amendments to the state budget introduced by members of the Senate and the House, particularly the list we’ve compiled here.  By clicking on the link of each proposed amendment, you can get more information.


You can also watch committee proceedings through the new live video access!

For the House, click here or go to:


For the Senate, click here or go to:


Thank you for supporting mental health care!

Bruce Cruser, Executive Director

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