Poll Shows Virginians Favor Statewide Investment in Mental Health Services

Va is currently ranked 37th among states in access to mental health services


New statewide poll results show that there is widespread, bipartisan support among Virginia voters for state government action to make significant new investments in expanding access to treatment and services for people experiencing mental health and substance use challenges.

public opinion survey conducted this month by co/efficient found that upon hearing the details of a $230 million state budget proposal to enhance behavioral health services, 76 percent of respondents expressed support for cooperation between the Virginia House of Delegates and the state Senate to approve the plan. Support for the proposal is strong across gender groups (77 percent support among women, 74 percent among men), partisan affiliation (78 percent support among Republicans, 77 percent among Democrats, and 74 percent for independents), as well as across age groups, ethnic groups, and across all regions of the Commonwealth.

Virginia is currently ranked 37th among states in access to mental health services, according to the 2022 Mental Health America state rankings. Meanwhile, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the share of adults receiving mental health treatment in the previous 12 months has risen each year from 2019-2021. This rise in demand for treatment services is occurring as health care providers, including behavioral health providers, continue to struggle with staffing shortages that impact treatment capacity.

In other results, the poll shows that:

  • Nearly three-fourths (72 percent) of Virginians polled said they believe that improving access to behavioral health services should be a “high priority” for the General Assembly, with strong support for legislative action across age, gender, political, and regional groups.
  • 70 percent of the voters surveyed said they would be more likely to support the plan due to its proposed inclusion of funding for more than 30 new mobile crisis teams to respond to calls to Virginia’s 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Hotline to provide urgent help to people in need.
  • 72 percent of the voters polled said they would be more likely to support the plan because it calls for funding to support mental health patient transportation to relieve the burden on police officers who often have to help transport patients in crisis.
  • 77 percent of those surveyed said they would be more likely to support the plan based on its intention to develop more community-based service capacity, enhance substance abuse services, and strengthen the behavioral health workforce.
  • And 81 percent said they would be more likely to support the proposal because it is designed to enhance access to same-day care for people in need, expand telehealth behavioral health treatment access, and provide housing support to people with serious mental illness.
Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, Virginia, mental health, poll, CDC,


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