During Virginia’s winter legislative session, Reverend Jennifer McKenzie, Pathway Homes Board of Directors Vice-Chair, made her presence known in the halls of the Capitol in Richmond. She met with and ably educated several lawmakers on opportunities to reform and support mental health services in the state.
In the wake of the assault of State Senator Creigh Deeds by his son and his son’s subsequent suicide, mental health issues were high on the agenda for many state legislators. As a specific response to the Deeds’ tragedy, the most significant mental health bill passed during the session was the extension of allotted time for finding a bed for an individual in crisis from six hours to 12 hours. While a step up for Virginia, most states provide between 24 and 72 hours to make an initial evaluation.
In addition to advocating in Richmond, Reverend McKenzie has been representing Pathway Homes’ voice in the Virginia Association of Community Based Providers (VACBP). The VACBP is a coalition of community-based providers that inform lawmakers about the impact of proposed actions. It also initiates discussions with the Department of Medical Assistance Services, the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services and Magellan to share feedback regarding issues that affect Virginia nonprofit agencies, like Pathways, and the people we serve. Thank you, Reverend McKenzie, for your work to ensure our voice is heard as Virginia legislators look at mental health funding and service delivery reforms!