Working to Raise Mental Health Awareness

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- Mental Health America of Augusta worked to set up for its annual meeting Thursday night.

Coming at a time when mental health in Virginia was once again thrown back into the national spotlight.

"It seems like it takes a tragedy to happen on a major scale before anything is done,"said Donna Gum, the executive director of Mental Health America of Augusta.

Governor Bob McDonnell told 'The Washington Post' he has asked for a statewide review of the commonwealth's mental health services.

Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services along with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration announced the final rule for a law that requires doctors and insurers to treat mental illness the same as physical illness.

"This is a truly historic and watershed event. There are millions of Americans with mental health conditions or substance abuse disorders who do not have adequate protections to ensure access to treatment," said Pam Hyde, a SAMHSA administrator.

But was it too late for Gus Deeds?

Mental health advocates are afraid that's the case, saying all too often mental illness is treated as less important.

"That's what happened at Virginia Tech. Thirty-two. He killed 32 people and then himself," said Gum.

It's precisely that perception of mental illness being less important that advocates say *has* to change; pointing to statistics from the national institute of mental health showing one in four adults has a diagnosable mental disorder.


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