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NV conservation group supports FERC's transmission planning rule; Memorial Day weekend includes Tornadoes and record-high temperatures; A focus on the Farm Bill for Latino Advocacy Week in D.C; and Southeast Alaska is heating homes with its rainfall.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

VA works to improve, better fund mental health services

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Wednesday, May 15, 2024   

Virginia is bolstering mental health care during and beyond Mental Health Month.

Since the pandemic, the need for behavioral health services has grown considerably, especially among young people. Social media and pandemic-era isolation contributed to an ongoing youth mental health crisis.

Bruce Cruser, executive director of Mental Health Virginia, said a spillover effect of the pandemic is the reduced stigma around mental health.

"You have more people willing to talk about their mental illness or the fact that they're not feeling well," Cruser observed. "It's good that more people are open about it and more people are asking for help when they need it. I mean, that's a good thing. The bad thing is that there's so much need."

The state has made progress in funding mental health services. Virginia's new budget provides an almost $2.5 million increase in children's mental health funding to $15 million for 2025 and 2026, but many other funding pots have been reduced, redirected or eliminated.

While the state is broadening the services provided, barriers to accessing them remain. Beyond existing stigma in certain communities, Cruser pointed out there are many reasons people are unable to get the help they need.

"For some people it's cost, because they still might not have insurance or know about available insurance options," Cruser acknowledged. "But even with insurance, there can be high copays, etc. But another one is availability of the service."

The federal Health Resources and Services Administration designated all of Virginia under a mental health professional shortage. Other reports show the state has few areas where youth behavioral health services are close to sufficient.


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