Prince William County expects $2.5M in state funds for mental health center

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Prince William County is poised to receive $2.5 million in state funding to support mental health crisis services.

The money is included in the two-year budget approved by the General Assembly on Wednesday. The spending plan still requires approval from Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

“I have been hearing from so many people in my district who say we need more mental health care,” Supervisor Andrea Bailey, D-Potomac, said in a news release. “My hope is that we can convert an existing building on the eastern side of the county to accommodate this center. We do not talk enough about mental health care in Black and Brown communities, largely because those communities have not had broad access to mental health care. The Crisis Receiving Center is a significant first step toward expanding mental health services in Prince William.”

The county plans to create a 24-hour crisis receiving center, which would provide direct interventions to avert emergency psychiatric hospitalization or institutional placement for people suffering mental health crises.

Del. Elizabeth Guzman, D-31st, submitted the budget amendment for the facility.

“Prince William County is in desperate need of a facility to support people experiencing mental health crises,” Guzman said in the release. “Our law enforcement agencies are spending a lot of their staff time responding to people experiencing a mental health crisis. This facility will help free up police resources and improve their response time to other emergencies, while also getting people in crisis the care they need so that they are not a threat to themselves or others.”

The unit would accept drop-offs and people under temporary detention orders to connect them with treatment and services.

“We can say we care about mental health care, or we can prove it by putting our money where our mouth is,” Del. Luke Torian, D-52nd, said in the release. “A mental health crisis center will make Prince William County a safer and healthier place to live.”

The facility would include 16 beds and cost $4.7 million at full buildout.

Last month, the county earmarked $3.2 million to support the center, using $1.5 million in one-time federal funding, $1.5 million in one-time state money and $200,000 in ongoing state revenue.

The county had a regional crisis stabilization unit with six beds, but the company operating it consolidated the program with one in Fairfax to provide a 16-bed facility in Chantilly. The local program ceased operations June 30, 2021.

Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement, a regional collective of clergy, has advocated for the establishment of the center.

The Rev. Keith Savage of First Baptist Church in Manassas said the facility is “a great investment from our local and state leaders.”

“Once operational, it will save countless lives in the coming years and help to build a more humane and effective mental health system, especially for those on the margins in Prince William,” he said in a separate release.

The Rev. Michael Sessoms of Little Union Baptist Church in Dumfries said the facility will serve people struggling with issues like him, an Iraq War veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I know what it’s like to be in the middle of a mental health crisis and not know where to turn. It’s a terrifying feeling,” Sessoms said in the release. “I am overjoyed that the CRC will be a lifeline for people who are suffering.”

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