Key moments in Virginia’s effort to reform mental health care
April 28, 2014 Then Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signs into law changes proposed by Deeds. The changes include requiring that state hospitals provide a “bed of last resort” to people court-ordered to treatment and a real-time registry to help identify open psychiatric beds quickly.
Aug. 19, 2015 Jamycheal Mitchel, 24, is found dead in his cell in a jail in the state’s Hampton Roads region. While off his schizophrenia medication, Mitchel was arrested for stealing a Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake totaling $5.05 from a Portsmouth, Va., 7-Eleven. A judge ordered him to a state psychiatric hospital to get help. But he sat in jail for months as he waited for a bed to open and died.
November 2015 Deeds files a wrongful-death lawsuit seeking $6 million. The suit alleges that the state, the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board and a former mental health evaluator exhibited gross negligence and medical malpractice by mishandling a crucial six-hour window for admitting Deeds’s son on Nov. 18, 2013.
2017 Virginia launches the STEP-VA initiative to improve the access, quality and accountability of behavioral health services provided by the community services boards.
May 14, 2018 A Richmond police officer fatally shoots teacher Marcus-David Peters, who was unarmed and in the midst of a mental health crisis, ultimately prompting the city to implement reforms.
Oct. 17, 2018 Deeds settles the wrongful-death lawsuit for $950,000.
2019 Between the 2013 fiscal year and the 2019 fiscal year, the number of state hospital admissions of people court-ordered to treatment increases 389 percent, due to the 2014 bed of last resort law.
July 9, 2021 The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services temporarily restricts new admissions at five facilities due to staffing shortages. Hospitals reopened to limited admissions within about six weeks.
July 28, 2021 Then Gov. Ralph Northam (D) proposes spending $485 million on Virginia’s behavioral health system, including funding to alleviate unprecedented staffing shortages in the state’s adult mental health hospitals.
June 30, 2022 Because of staffing shortages, 232 state hospital beds still remain offline due to a lack of sufficient direct care staff to operate them.
Dec. 12, 2022 A state report finds the acute psychiatric bed registry often does not have real-time information and wastes limited staff time and resources.
Dec. 14, 2022 Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) unveils the “Right Help, Right Now” plan to improve the state’s crisis infrastructure.
March 6, 2023 Irvo Otieno, 28, of Henrico County, Va., dies in Central State Hospital, where he landed while suffering a mental health crisis. Authorities say he was asphyxiated after sheriff’s deputies and hospital workers piled upon him at the hospital in an incident that was caught on video. Six months later, the state agrees to pay $8.5 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit his family filed.
Sept. 14, 2023 Youngkin signs the state budget, which includes $200 million to fund reforms, including crisis receiving centers, mobile crisis units, children’s behavioral health services and a pay increase for community service board staff.