By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Just days after introducing proposed legislation to address Virginia’s mental health system, 12th District Delegate Joseph Yost has been appointed to a newly-created task force to address mental health services and crisis response.
The “Task Force On Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response,” created Dec. 10 by Executive Order of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, is to send initial recommendations to the governor by Jan. 31 and present its final report no later than Oct. 1.
The purpose of the task force is to review services currently existing in the Commonwealth and what challenges those services are facing. The group will then make recommendations on how to improve mental health services, procedures and programs, including offering legislation and budget proposals.
“At least 25 percent of the population suffers from mental illness,” said Yost. “It is vitally important these individuals and their families are immediately connected to services to ensure their safety, and I look forward to continue providing leadership on these important issues.”
Besides two members from the House of Delegates and Senate, the task force also is made up of persons from mental health professions and hospitals, law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and persons who are receiving mental health services and families of those receiving mental health services.
The task force will be funded through federal and state funds and private contributions. Estimated cost is $1,000. Staff support, estimated at 250 hours, will come from the offices of the governor, attorney general, secretary of health and human resources, public safety and other agencies as designated by the governor.
Yost served on the “Governor’s Task Force for School and Campus Safety” in 2013, helping to provide mental health expertise on the issue of school shootings.