Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has announced an additional $500m in funding for Right Help, Right Now (RHRN), a behavioural health transformation initiative in the US state.

This takes the total funding for the initiative to nearly $1.4bn.

The additional funding has been announced for RHRN on the completion of its first anniversary and will be used to transform the behavioural health system, including the expansion of school-based mental health services.

This $500m of funding includes $307m for 3,440 waiver slots, $23m for expanding school-based mental health services, $46m for emergency room alternatives, $10m for specialised emergency rooms for psychiatric patients, $23m to ease the burden on enforcement, $58m for building a behavioural health workforce, and $28m for opioid abatement and response initiatives.

Following the first year of the RHRN, among the achievements of the initiative included the growth of the 988 suicide and crisis lifeline system, the launch of a behavioural health reserve corps of volunteers, funding to develop emergency room alternatives, expanded waiver slots for people with developmental disabilities, and further compensation for staff working in the state hospitals.

Besides the new funding, the governor also announced a Youth Mental Health Strategy to address the addictive aspects of social media platforms impacting children.

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The strategy aims to enhance the mental health of Virginia’s youth by safeguarding them from predatory influences on social platforms, protecting children’s privacy from targeted advertising, and prohibiting addictive features on social media.

It also includes measures to expand eligibility for school-based mental health services, increase the behavioural health workforce, and provide funds for tele-behavioural health for students in grades six to 12.

Governor Youngkin said: “After a year of implementing critical changes in our mental and behavioural health system through my Right Help, Right Now plan, we are forging ahead with additional RHRN funding and a Youth Mental Health strategy to assist and support our next generation of Virginians.

“It’s clear that young Virginians face a myriad of challenges, ranging from addictive social media platforms, to an increasingly dangerous opioid epidemic, to mental health challenges, and we need to offer support.

“Our new Youth Mental Health Strategy will work to protect and support our young people from predatory practices online while also empowering families with new tools to support their children’s mental health.”