Virginia Mental Health Centers to Offer Same Day, Walk-In Evaluations

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the state’s 40 mental health centers are now all offering walk-in mental evaluations.

Northam said Thursday that a person in need of a mental health assessment can get one at the state’s Community Services Boards without an appointment instead of waiting days or weeks for an appointment.

Walk-in appointments are free, but may be billed to an insurer or Medicaid in some circumstances, a Department of Behavioral Health spokesperson Meghan McGuire said.

Anyone found to need further treatment, including therapy, medication management, substance abuse treatment or case management, will be scheduled a follow-up appointment within 10 days.

All centers are required to implement same-day access by July 1, 2019, McGuire said.

The $15 million investment in outpatient services will bolster preventive care efforts and help avoid emergencies and hospital admissions, the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services said in a statement.

Last year lawmakers and the governor approved extra funding to make sure every Community Services Board could offer same-day assessments.

Virginia has made increased funding for mental health treatment since the suicide of Sen. Creigh Deeds’ son in 2013 exposed gaps in the state’s mental health system.

A Department of Behavioral Health spokesperson said national data from other areas that introduced same-day access shows a 60 percent reduction in wait times, greater engagement and a 39 percent drop in the cost to access a treatment program.

Each county and city has a mental health center, the state says. Go here to find the center closest to you.