Va mental health system improves but gaps remain

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 24, 2012 at 9:24 am •  Published: December 24, 2012
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Experts and state officials say Virginia has improved its mental health system since the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007. But funding shortages and other issues remain.

Reforms include changing the standard for involuntary commitment, and improving and clarifying procedures for mandatory outpatient treatment. But many people needing care are placed on waiting lists.

Mental health care is not available in most areas for people who cannot afford private care. Or, care isn't available in a timely manner, said Richard J. Bonnie, a University of Virginia law professor who is chairman of Virginia's Commission on Mental Health Law Reform.

"A lot has changed, and significant reforms occurred, and there have been significant improvements, but there is a still a long way to go," Bonnie told The Daily Progress (http://bit.ly/TfE6Gv )

State House Minority Leader David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, said the state has not been able to keep pace with the need.