Virginia Task Force Weighs Changes To Mental Health Laws | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Virginia Task Force Weighs Changes To Mental Health Laws

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's Task Force on School and Campus Security is brainstorming ways to prevent another Virginia Tech or Newtown massacre. The Mental Health Working Group is slowly rolling out ideas members believe will address some overlooked issues.

The problems are systemic and complicated, says the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Commissioner, James Stewart. He says they've evaluated the length of detention for psychiatric, drug, or alcohol problems.

"Currently there is no requirement that an individual remain in the hospital for 24 hours, and Virginia has one of the shortest temporary detention periods nationwide," Stewart says.

The group has also examined the effectiveness of increasing penalties for possessing firearms while ineligible for mental health reasons, and looked for solutions for those who lack treatment access or funding. They're also searching for more effective detection methods when a child exhibits behavioral problems.

And all of this must translate to making changes in the most cost-effective manner possible.

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