Peace supported legislation to provide funding to increase same day access to mental health and substance use services
Passed during the 2017 General Assembly session, House Bill 1549, supported by Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover) will increase availability of same day services to citizens through the Henrico Community Services Board (CSB) which serves New Kent County. Recently announced by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the Henrico CSB will receive state funding to begin offering same day, in-person screening for mental health/and or substance use concerns in July 2017.
Individuals seeking help for a mental health and/or substance use concern, may walk in, without appointment, and speak with a staff member face-to-face, rather than initiating contact over the phone. If the individual appears to qualify for a CSB services, they may be able to receive a more in-depth assessment for services that same day. Each CSB assessment clinician is trained to assess for substance use disorders as well as mental health and co-occurring disorders. Same day access is considered a best practice in behavioral health, and the CSB staff will work diligently to make this system change.
Same day access is a best practice that virtually eliminates “no show” appointments, increases adherence to follow-up appointments, reduces the “wait time” for appointments, and makes more cost-effective use of staff resources. Implementing Same Day Access requires a change in CSBs’ business practices, such as scheduling, documentation, caseload management, and utilization of shorter term, more focused and practical therapies. It is the best lever to begin shifting care away from crisis response when individuals are more at risk to themselves and to others and towards preventative care when symptoms are more manageable.
Speaking to this important change, Peace says, “Often when people recognize that they need help, there may be a brief window of time when a person is willing to track down and receive help. If a person has to wait too long for services, the chance to help may be lost. This is an important step toward increased positive outcomes for citizens.”