Budget Success!

After many long months of fierce debate between the two parties, on Thursday Virginia’s legislature finally passed a budget for the state.

The budget has good news for VOICE’s core behavioral health priorities. 

Our organizing, together with our key coalition partners, delivered $68 million of investment into desperately-needed behavioral health priority areas, $60 million of which is new spending.

Specifically, the state has allocated $58 million for the establishment and expansion of Crisis Receiving Centers (up from $7.5 million last year) and $10 million (up from $0 last year) for hospital-based emergency psychiatric programs.

With new funding on the way, new Crisis Receiving Centers are being proposed across the state, including potential projects in the pipeline in our backyard of Northern Virginia. 

Had the budget been passed in the spring during the usual time period for doing so, we believe that we would have seen even higher investment into our priorities. Nevertheless, this represents a major accomplishment that you should feel proud of.

VOICE: these investments will save lives. Hats off for your amazing work!! 

Stayed tuned for updates on our progress engaging Gov. Youngkin and his administration on improving youth behavioral health outcomes in the Commonwealth, following up from our July 9th assembly.

You can read more about the final state budget here.

Governor Glenn Youngkin

VOICE Alexandria’s Behavioral Health Team Research Action

On Friday August 11th fourteen Alexandria VOICE leaders and partners spent two hours conducting a research action as part of the the VOICE Alexandria’s Behavioral Health Team’s getting into action to address the behavioral health crisis. The group of leaders was largely made up of those directly impacted by mental health and behavioral health needs who are in the listening and learning process building towards a campaign. 

VOICE toured a new Alexandria City facility that houses Emergency Services and Medically Assisted Treatment, both programs operating out of the city’s Department of Community and Humane Services.

The tour and Q&A were led by Alexandria’s Marcus Alert System Coordinator Michael Razak and Emergency Services Team Leader Dr. Allison Guernsey who showcased the new facility at 4850 Mark Center Dr, Alexandria, VA 22311 where Licensed clinicians evaluate mental health and substance use disorder problems and provide help as needed over the phone or in person. Walk-in Emergency Services are available Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Wednesday – Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. City staff highlighted that despite the enormous need the center was operating under-capacity for the moment, and that communicating the availability of services was still a need.  https://www.psychiatry.org/File%20Library/Psychiatrists/Cultural-Competency/Mental_Health_Guide_Tool_Kit_2018.pdf)

VOICE’s Behavioral Health Team reconvened on Monday evening August 14th to report out on this research action as well as several others conducted in the past week. The team agreed that there is a strong need to connect with more directly impacted people as well as a larger and more diverse group of community members to cut the issue and build the power to win. The team just launched a Fall Listening Campaign – reach out to Jessica Sarriot if you want to join this team! (jsarriot@voice-va.org)

Workshop on Relational Organizing

Over the weekend, VOICE organizer James Pearlstein led a workshop on relational organizing with over 30 emerging young adult Muslim leaders who attended a conference sponsored by MAVE (Muslim American Voter Engagement). 

The workshop focused on how to use the tool of 1-1 relational meetings to drive needed change in our communities. The central takeaway from the session: spend lots of time building relationships, not just on tasks!