State Hospital Crisis
“Level of dangerousness is unprecedented”
Decades of underfunding our mental health system and a shortage of mental health workers have posed serious challenges for Virginians seeking care. Now, the lack of community care options and impacts of COVID-19 have pushed the overburdened hospitals to take drastic steps. 

On July 9th, five of Virginia’s eight state psychiatric hospitals for adults closed to any new admissions until they can get sufficient numbers of staff to provide a safe environment for patients and staff. The hospital system staff vacancy rate is over 28%. 

Many factors have contributed to this crisis, and it will take bold steps by both private and public officials to solve it. Prior to this most recent news, we commented on some of these issues in our blog and a Roanoke Times commentary. Nearly all steps require funding. The legislature can help address this crisis when it convenes August 2nd to decide how to use $4 billion in federal recovery act funds. 

You can see the Commissioner’s July 9th letter here: State Hospital Temporary Admission Closure 7.9.2021. Recent presentations on the system crisis, and links to media coverage are on our website here:

Marcus Alert Crisis Response Plan Completed

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) has completed a plan to implement the Marcus-David Peters Act. Named in honor of Marcus-David Peters, a young, Black, biology teacher and VCU graduate who was fatally shot by Richmond Police in 2018 in the midst of a behavioral health crisis, the Act was signed into law in November 2020 by Governor Northam. 

Implementing the Act requires DBHDS to develop a comprehensive crisis system based on national best practice models and composed of a crisis call center, community care and mobile crisis teams, crisis stabilization centers, and the Marcus Alert system. 

Mental Health America of Virginia was a member of the Marcus Alert State Planning Stakeholder Group. Meeting many times over the past six months, the group was comprised of 45 stakeholders from across Virginia, representing all points of view and all aspects of the behavioral health system.

The 20-page summary plan and the entire planning document are available on the DBHDS website at Marcus Alert

2021 BIPOC Mental Health Month Toolkit
Bebe Moore Campbell was an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate who worked tirelessly to shed light on the mental health needs of the Black community and other underrepresented communities.

To continue the visionary work of Bebe Moore Campbell, each year Mental Health America (MHA) develops a public education campaign dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

This year’s theme is Strength in Communities, highlighting alternative mental health supports created by BIPOC and queer and trans BIPOC (QTBIPOC) communities of color, for BIPOC and QTBIPOC communities of color.

To sign up for event reminders, please register here.
2021 Victory for Mental Health Celebration

09/09/21 8:00am - 09/23/21 5:00pm

Our annual Recovery Art Auction will run on-line for two weeks, concluding with the Advocacy Award and Victory celebration.
I'll be there!
MHA Virginia Awarded Victim Services Grant
(Re)STORE program to continue

We’re excited that our service for crime/trauma survivors will continue, thanks to a new two-year matching grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. Survivors of Trauma Obtaining Resiliency and Empowerment ((Re)STORE) strengthens the mental health resiliency of adult victims in ongoing recovery from mental trauma. It provides peer recovery tools for small groups using a retreat style format, and also through a virtual closed webinar format.

The intended participants for (Re)STORE are those who have recovered enough that they are no longer in crisis, and could benefit from peer focused education and support for their continued recovery. 

Funded in part by a previous DCJS grant, (Re)STORE switched last year from in-person groups to a half-day webinar. We plan to continue the webinar options while also bringing back the in-person retreats later in the year. Watch for more details to come, and email to be included on future announcements. 
Our On-Demand Webinars
Spotlight Series Part 3: Self-Empowerment

Unleash your potential by taking your self-empowerment skills to the next level. Deepen your sense of self-awareness, and foster compassionate, authentic connections with yourself and others. Learn how to take initiative and seek out opportunities to continuously learn, grow and evolve.

Format: This recorded Zoom webinar is free of charge and open to all.
Topics include: Self-awareness, self-compassion, mindfulness, motivation, goal setting
Facilitators: Heather Fossen, CPRS and Kevin Kelly, CPRS

Peer Into Recovery Podcast
Peer Into Recovery is a podcast offering unique insights into the profession of peer support, brought to you by the Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Network and Mental Health America of Virginia.

Check it out the latest episodes here:

Want support in getting back to “normal?” 

Call the Virginia COPES Warm Line
(877) 349-6428
Warm Lines Prove to be Valuable Support 
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, our peer run Warm Line was providing free phone support to a steady increase in callers from throughout Virginia. Not a crisis “hot line,” a warm line can help prevent someone from escalating into crisis, provide a connection to resources or be with them through a moment of fear and anxiety. 

Perfectly positioned as a remote support system, our Warm Lines help fill the mental health provider gap by being accessible to anyone with a land line or cell phone seven days a week. In addition to our peer run mental health Warm Line, we are a partner on the Alive RVA addiction recovery Warm Line, and the Virginia COPES Warm Line for pandemic related support and resources for the general population. 

MHAV Peer Run Warm Line - Results
After assisting a record 1,052 calls during three months at the height of the pandemic, the number of calls has leveled off but at a much higher call volume than before the pandemic. 

From April through June this year, we responded to 976 calls/texts, an 18% increase over the second quarter in 2020 and a 5% increase over the previous quarter. 36% of callers were new callers

  • 75% of the contacts led to the caller creating a self-care plan
  • 55% of callers identified support networks
  • 99% of callers responding said the warm line interaction was either “supportive” or “very supportive.”

For more details, please see our blog at: Warm Line Gives Valuable Support both in and out of the Pandemic 
Thank you for supporting Mental Health America of Virginia.
With your help, we are one step closer to achieving mental health for all Virginians.
Upcoming Events

September 9 - 23, 2021
2021 Victory for Mental Health Celebration
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