Events leading up to a violent confrontation in Bath County are raising questions about access to mental health services, and funding for critical programs in Virginia.
The Office of Inspector General is now investigating why Gus Deeds was released from emergency custody on Monday, the day before he apparently stabbed his father and then shot himself.
But professionals who provide mental health services in western Virginia say access to treatment is a daily concern.
We spoke with leaders of Support Systems, a private provider that supplies mental health services to Medicaid clients. They say the difficulty of securing treatment for people who desperately need it is a continuing struggle.
Tracie Cookston is the company's Roanoke Director. "And already this morning, we've had different clients that needed to go to a bed and they were turned away," Cookston told us. "This is a problem we face every single day."
And new eligibility requirements that take effect December 1st could disqualify up to a quarter of the clients they now serve.
Michelle Lanier is Support Systems Executive Director. "And that really worries me that a lot of these clients won' t have anybody," Lanier told WDBJ7, "because they don't have anybody else. And that's hard for a lot of us to imagine, but it's true and it's real."
Support Systems and other companies that provide mental health services have formed the Virginia Association of Community-based Providers, and they plan to take their concerns to the General Assembly next year.
They might find a sympathetic lawmaker in Giles County Delegate Joseph Yost. The Pearisburg Republican has become an advocate in the General Assembly for mental health services.
"Virginia has concentrated very heavily on the intellectual and developmental disorders over the last couple of years for a variety of reasons," Yost said, "but I think the conversation is starting to steer back towards the mental health aspect, which is something that needs to happen."