Public Comments for 02/16/2021 Health, Welfare and Institutions - Behavioral Health Subcommittee
SB1176 - Barrier crimes; amends current requirements for DBHDS to provide, etc.
No Comments Available
SB1220 - State facilities; admission of certain aliens.
Last Name: Barrett Organization: Capital Area Immigrants' Rights (CAIR) Coalition Locality: Washington DC

Chairman Willett and members of the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee, Good morning, I am an attorney with the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition. I am writing today to ask for your support on SB 1220. I provide legal representation at no cost to clients, primarily for residents of Virginia who are detained in immigration detention centers across the state. Each year, the U.S. government detains nearly 400,000 immigrants, including over 600 Virginia residents. Of those residents, more than 700 children were impacted by ICE detaining their parents. We serve over 1,200 people a year detained in Virginia. Of those people detained, over 1,200 children were also impacted by their parent's detention. Our clients are diverse in their backgrounds, with some having resided in the United States as legal permanent residents for years and others having arrived to seek refuge from violence and persecution in their home countries. They are members of our community. They are mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters, often of U.S. citizens. In relying on CAIR Coalition for legal services, they are also generally of limited economic means and often fill jobs at the front line of our economy as essential workers. Several suffer or have suffered from serious mental illness, often in connection with past trauma they have endured in the places they fled. Providing these individuals with the proper mental health care enables them to get back on their feet, continue supporting their families and, where needed, apply to adjust their status. Weaponizing the state facilities where they seek refuge, on the other hand, worsens their prospects and those of Virginia’s communities as a whole. Immigration court proceedings are civil, not criminal, in nature. However, with the use of jails as ICE detention facilities and the prospects of deportation resulting in prolonged family separation, persecution, or even death, the stakes are equally high. Information sharing between healthcare providers and immigration enforcement breaks community trust in government and goes against ethical principles in public health including patient consent, confidentiality, and non-maleficence, as empirical research has demonstrated. Immigrant detention has also been shown to worsen mental health, with one study broadly reviewing the scientific literature on the issue finding detention duration to be died to worsening symptoms in illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. At CAIR Coalition, we have directly witnessed cases of individuals detained by ICE after being hospitalized, facing the threat of deportation to countries where the mentally ill face violence and lack treatment options. We have also witnessed the desperation and impacts on well-being that many of our clients face while detained. We have also spoken with their families, many of them U.S. Citizens, who are left hurting without individuals who often had been mustering the strength to be the prime income provider in spite of their mental health struggles. Particularly during the economic distress and "mental health pandemic" caused by COVID-19, access to mental health treatment must be encouraged regardless of national origin. For all of the foregoing reasons, I respectfully support SB1220. Alice N. Barrett, Staff Attorney CAIR Coalition Phone: (202) 381-9004 alice@caircoalition.org

Last Name: Miller Organization: disAbility Law Center of Virginia Locality: Richmond

SB 1220 -- The disAbility Law Center of Virginia supports this legislation. The reporting requirements in current law act as a dangerous disincentive, deterring people from seeking necessary mental health treatment. We thank Senator Favola and the committee. SB 1304 -- The disAbility Law Center of Virginia supports efforts to improve discharge planning for the state hospitals. We would be willing to bring our substantial experience in discharge representation to this work group.

SB1304 - Community services boards; discharge planning.
Last Name: Miller Organization: disAbility Law Center of Virginia Locality: Richmond

SB 1220 -- The disAbility Law Center of Virginia supports this legislation. The reporting requirements in current law act as a dangerous disincentive, deterring people from seeking necessary mental health treatment. We thank Senator Favola and the committee. SB 1304 -- The disAbility Law Center of Virginia supports efforts to improve discharge planning for the state hospitals. We would be willing to bring our substantial experience in discharge representation to this work group.

SB1427 - Early Psychosis Intervention and Coordinated Specialty Care Program Advisory Board; established.
Last Name: Getch Organization: PRS, Inc. Locality: Spotsylvania

Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) is a recovery-oriented, evidence-based treatment program that targets young people with first episode psychosis. The coordinated team approach includes case management, psychotherapy, medication management, family education and support, supported employment and education and peer supports based on the individual’s needs and preferences. There are eight such programs across Virginia, four of which are located in Northern Virginia. As CEO of PRS, Inc., one of the four organization’s operating a CSC program in Northern Virginia, I cannot emphasize enough the positive impact these programs have on young adults and their families. Combined, these eight programs are currently treating just over 230 young adults; however, it is estimated that about 1,700 young adults will experience their first episode of psychosis each year. The Advisory Board proposed in this legislation will work with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) to establish fidelity standards for CSC programs and look for resources to enhance existing programs and expand services to underserved areas in the state.

Last Name: Schuplin Locality: Chester

Each year over 1700 young Virginians experience their first episode of psychosis. Many do not receive treatment. During the period in which they are not treated, known as the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP), symptoms worsen and functioning decreases. Coordinated Specialty Care is an evidence based treatment for first episode psychosis. It is proven effective in decreasing symptoms and increasing functioning with outcomes such as decreased hospitalization, improved work and school achievement and enhanced social networks. There are 8 teams in Virginia currently providing treatment to 233 individuals. This does not approach the need. Besides treatment, Coordinated Specialty Care conducts outreach and community education so that new cases of psychosis are identified and engaged in treatment. The Advisory Board in this legislation will work with DBHDS to expand and enhance this essential service. I support SB 1427.

End of Comments