WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $2,642,519 in federal funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for the Virginia State Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS). This funding will go towards improving call and text response rates at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
he last two years of the pandemic, we have seen an increased demand for mental health services,” the senators said. “We are pleased that this funding will allow the Commonwealth to provide more timely assistance to those who are in crisis and in need of help.”
Currently in Virginia, the DBHDS has an in-state answer rate of 83 percent. The goal of this funding is to increase answer rates at call centers to 90 percent by the end of the grant period. In addition, SAMSHA has a stated goal of answering 90 percent of calls within 15 seconds and 95 percent of calls within 20 seconds by the end of the grant period.
This funding comes ahead of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s July transition from the current 10-digit number to a three-digit, 988, dialing code. With the switch, SAMHSA is expecting an increase in calls.
In February of last year, Sens. Warner and Kaine announced funding for the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority to help expand access to and improve the quality of mental health and substance use disorder programs.