Friday, January 04, 2008

Failing society and the person in need

As the Virginia General Assembly prepares to convene next week, the tragedy of Virginia Tech and the need for mental health reform loom large over the Commonwealth. One aspect of Virginia’s flawed mental system health that has received a great deal of notoriety is the commitment standard – one of the most restrictive in the nation.

Many have focused on the commitment standard’s inability to address those who may pose a danger to others, but few have commented on its similar failure to protect the individuals themselves who are in crisis. As Virginia Delegate Dave Albo explains, the current standard renders families just as powerless to help their loved ones in those situations.
"You have to wait for the person to deteriorate so much that they fit that definition [of imminent danger]. You have to wait right up until the very end when the person is about to kill themselves before you call," said Albo.

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