There have been interesting new potential developments in Virginia's
mental health laws in the wake of the Senator Creigh Deeds' tragedy,
outlined briefly in this
AP story. Since the tragedy at Virginia Tech in 2007, Virginia has placed more
emphasis on improving its mental health system with varying degrees of success.
One of the most difficult challenges the mental health system faces is
attempting to balance individual civil liberties with the safety of the
public. On the one hand, the General Assembly wants to protect the public
from potential dangers and on the other wants to protect citizens'
right to make choices about their own mental health care. The new proposed
bills being introduced include extending the time people can be detained
in the mental health context and the ability of a magistrate to issue
a temporary detention order without first securing a bed in a psychiatric facility.