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$10M state grant to fund crisis response, mental health initiatives in Henrico


Henrico County aims to bolster its public health services by constructing a large-scale crisis response center alongside a new detox treatment facility. The $10-million project will be funded in part through a state-backed initiative established by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

The Right Help, Right Now project works to invest in and provide alternative approaches to care for individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis or substance abuse disorder. The program aims to provide $500 million in new funding for mental health services and intervention strategies across the state.

The first round of projects to receive grant funding were announced in December 2023. The money is being distributed through the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.

The governor’s office recently announced another $58 million of investments — which included the $10.6 million for Henrico Area Mental Health & Developmental Services.

Its building will include 16 of each: crisis stabilization unit beds for short-term overnight crisis care; detoxification beds; and 23-hour recliners for evaluation, calming and additional treatment and support.

“Through Right Help, Right Now, we are delivering on our promise to give Virginians experiencing a mental health crisis help pre-crisis, in crisis, and post crisis with available resources to call, entities to respond, and somewhere to go,” Youngkin said in a press statement.

The DBHDS funding will be combined with $13 million previously secured from state and local sources to meet the $23.6-million estimated cost of the project. A timeline for the construction of the Henrico center will be determined by the county and the facility’s operator once designs have been finalized and a contractor is selected.

Michael Feinmel, Henrico’s deputy county manager for public safety, said he wants the new facility to build upon the county’s growing continuum of care.

Rep. Spanberger secured $1 million in federal funding to support construction of the facility. Henrico received an additional $10.6 million in grant funds from Gov. Glenn Youngkin in March 2024.

Courtesy

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Henrico County

Henrico County officials along side U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger holding the ceremonial check and the construction equipment at the site of the the county’s soon-to-be adult crisis receiving center and detoxification center in March 2022.

“Hopefully, we’re building something that will result in responses from first responders and mental health professionals that looks totally different than what it’s looked like for the past 100 years,” Feinmel said.

The county’s investments in alternative care and response strategies were being developed as early as 2019, according to Feinmel, when Henrico’s Board of Supervisors established the Recovery Roundtable. The group was tasked with providing strategies and recommendations to strengthen addiction and recovery programs in the county.

The roundtable was composed of a variety of stakeholders, including clinical treatment providers and recovery representatives, criminal justice advocates, business interests, community organizations and subject-matter experts.

“What we’ve learned is that jails and hospitals are not the right place to treat people that are in a mental health crisis,” Feinmel said. “We’ve got to focus on nurturing a more supportive and a more comfortable response to folks battling substance use disorder, as well as a mental health crisis.”

In March 2023, 28-year-old Irvo Otieno was being transferred to a state psychiatric hospital in Dinwiddie County. During the transfer, he was restrained by seven Henrico County sheriff’s deputies and three Central State Hospital employees. Otieno died while in custody.

Henrico has actively sought methods to provide alternatives to its existing network of health services since publishing the Recovery Roundtable’s report in 2020, according to Feinmel.

County Manager John Vithoulkas proposed funding a $12-million detox center in response to Virginia’s opioid epidemic in 2020 and received some funding from U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Henrico), who secured $1 million in federal funds to accelerate the proposed facility. It’s expected to open this year.

In early March, Henrico opened a separate crisis receiving center at St. Joseph’s Villa that will focus on services for adolescents experiencing behavioral health issues.

In Henrico’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget proposal, the county also identified state funding for its ongoing implementation and staffing of its Marcus Alert System — an emergency response framework named after Marcus-David Peters, a young Black teacher who was killed by police in 2018 while experiencing a mental health crisis.

The proposal includes funds to employ a Peer Recovery Specialist to work in support of the Marcus Alert System.

“It’s important to note that the mindset of our country going forward is to avoid law enforcement involvement, hospital involvement, jail involvement for folks who are in mental health crisis,” Feinmel said. “We want to create and develop the resources and the pathways to connect people that need help into the right place.”





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