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Virginia Mental Health Programs In Need Of Funding

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The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary has jumpstarted the gun control debate, as well as highlighted mental health issues. Experts who have been creating children's crisis services say there are proven solutions that will assist more children early in life, but they say more funding is needed for the services to be effective.

About 100,000 Virginia children and youth suffer from mental health disorders. Margaret Nimmo Crowe with Voices for Virginia's Children says many don't receive the treatment they need. More funding is needed for easily accessed treatment alternatives in between.

Last year, lawmakers funded three of five regional children's crisis services projects. Gov. Bob McDonnell just proposed funds for the other two. Crowe says these pilot programs are successful, such as the Richmond crisis stabilization center, which served 36 children in five months.

"One of the reasons that this will appeal to lawmakers is that the cost in state general funds of keeping a child in the crisis stabilization unit for one day is about $150, versus at least $700 to send them to the state psychiatric hospital in Staunton."

Crowe says some children who couldn't afford services can now see a psychiatrist for proper assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

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