Mental Health Crisis Looms

Virginia and Fairfax County lack resources to handle number of people in need

Over 77,000 physicians and 200 children’s hospitals declared a mental health crisis over a year ago. The lack of mental health professionals and space for behavioral health patients is not new, but the sheer intensity of the issue is.
According to the Virginia Health Care Foundation, childhood suicide rates and mental health issues increased between 2010 and 2020. By 2018, suicide was the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24.
Virginia regularly ranks highly in terms of business and education, but when it comes to mental health resources, the state is severely behind.
There is a state-wide shortage of mental health providers and professionals. In fact, 93 out of Virginia’s 133 counties are federally designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas. This means that 37% of Virginians live in a medically understaffed location.
And out of the providers that are currently available, 61% are nearing retirement age (55 or older) and will have retired within the next 10 years.
Although Virginia currently has 40 graduate-level behavioral health programs with 800 graduates annually, the number of them that get licensed is not enough to fill the already inadequate number of behavioral health positions.