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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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Opponents of latest AR state tax cuts say they benefit wealthy Arkansans; Julian Assange agrees to a plea deal that would allow him to avoid imprisonment in US; Tech-based carbon-capture projects make headway in local government; NV nonprofit calls Biden's student debt initiatives economic justice.

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Charges against fake electors in Nevada are dismissed, Milwaukee officials get ready to expect the unexpected at the RNC convention, and the Justice Department says Alaska is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

VA works to improve, better fund mental health services

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Wednesday, May 15, 2024   

Virginia is bolstering mental health care during and beyond Mental Health Month.

Since the pandemic, the need for behavioral health services has grown considerably, especially among young people. Social media and pandemic-era isolation contributed to an ongoing youth mental health crisis.

Bruce Cruser, executive director of Mental Health Virginia, said a spillover effect of the pandemic is the reduced stigma around mental health.

"You have more people willing to talk about their mental illness or the fact that they're not feeling well," Cruser observed. "It's good that more people are open about it and more people are asking for help when they need it. I mean, that's a good thing. The bad thing is that there's so much need."

The state has made progress in funding mental health services. Virginia's new budget provides an almost $2.5 million increase in children's mental health funding to $15 million for 2025 and 2026, but many other funding pots have been reduced, redirected or eliminated.

While the state is broadening the services provided, barriers to accessing them remain. Beyond existing stigma in certain communities, Cruser pointed out there are many reasons people are unable to get the help they need.

"For some people it's cost, because they still might not have insurance or know about available insurance options," Cruser acknowledged. "But even with insurance, there can be high copays, etc. But another one is availability of the service."

The federal Health Resources and Services Administration designated all of Virginia under a mental health professional shortage. Other reports show the state has few areas where youth behavioral health services are close to sufficient.


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