Same Day Access to Mental Health Services

Now Available at All 40 Community Services Boards in Virginia

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam and the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) today announced that all 40 Community Services Boards (CSBs) in the Commonwealth have Same Day Access (SDA) available to Virginians seeking mental health services in their communities. A person in need of a mental health evaluation can now access walk-in hours at any CSB throughout Virginia without an appointment, instead of waiting days or even weeks to receive an assessment. SDA marks a dramatic shift from addressing mental health needs only when a crisis occurs to utilizing preventive care to help avoid emergencies and hospital admissions.

“Every person in Virginia should be able to access quality public behavioral health services, no matter who they are, how much money they make, or their insurance status,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia’s Community Service Boards are the front line providers of mental health treatment, and when someone is in urgent need of clinical services, it is important that they receive care in a timely manner. Same Day Access removes many of the barriers to mental health care and helps individuals get treatment wherever they may live in the Commonwealth.”

In 2017, then-Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a bill requiring all 40 of the Commonwealth’s locally-run CSBs to provide SDA, and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) began implementation in an initial group of 18 CSBs. In 2018, Governor Northam and the General Assembly provided funds for the remaining 22 CSBs to implement SDA.

“Implementing Same Day Access is a critical step forward in our efforts to improve Virginia’s behavioral health system, and it is one that came through a tremendous amount of hard work and collaboration,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, M.D. “I want to thank the Commonwealth’s 40 CSBs and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services for working together to make this important change.”

SDA allows a person who calls or appears at a CSB during SDA hours of operation to be assessed that same day instead of potentially waiting weeks for a mental health appointment. Based on that assessment, the person is then scheduled for appropriate initial treatment within ten days. This best practice virtually eliminates “no show” appointments, increases adherence to follow-up appointments, reduces the wait time for appointments, and makes more cost-effective use of staff resources. These results help Virginians access mental health care services right where they live with as few barriers as possible.

“When someone makes the decision to seek treatment for behavioral health issues, we have an obligation as public health providers to make that process as efficient and accessible as we can,” said S. Hughes Melton, M.D., MBA, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Commissioner. “Same Day Access fulfills this goal by delivering the right health care at the right time in the right place.”

SDA is the first step in DBHDS’ System Transformation Excellence and Performance (STEP-VA), an innovative initiative for individuals with behavioral health disorders featuring a uniform set of required services, consistent quality measures, and improved oversight in all Virginia communities. The next steps currently underway are implementing of primary care screening and monitoring at all CSBs, phasing in a statewide expansion of outpatient services at all CSBs, and planning for the acceleration of STEP-VA crisis services at CSBs statewide.

“The Virginia Association of Community Services Boards and its member CSBs remain steadfast in our commitment to removing barriers to access in our behavioral health and developmental services system,” said Jennifer Faison, Executive Director of the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards. “The Same Day Access model is an important move in the right direction.”

CSBs function as the single points of entry into publicly funded behavioral health and developmental services, including access to state hospital services through pre-admission screening, case management and coordination of services, and discharge planning for individuals leaving state facilities. CSBs advocate for individuals who are receiving or are in need of services. CSBs also act as community educators, organizers, and planners and advise their member governments about local behavioral health and developmental services and needs.

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