RICHMOND, AUG. 26 -- The state board overseeing Virginia's mental health programs endorsed a proposal today to add a record $140 million to community-based health initiatives by 1990.
The action by the state Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services Board followed an intense lobbying effort by local advocacy groups around Virginia, as well as an outpouring of requests for additional funding during a series of recent public hearings.
"Hundreds of speakers across Virginia, from the coal towns of Southwest Virginia to the more affluent suburbs of Washington, described from personal experience the compelling problems of seeking services where none now exist," board Chairman James C. Windsor said of the summer hearings, which drew 700 witnesses.
Virginia has a two-year, $160 million program for community-based programs helping the mentally ill and the handicapped, but some state officials contend that amount is inadequate and have asked Gov. Gerald L. Baliles to add $140 million to the program in his 1988-90 budget.
Baliles has not committed himself to all of the extra funding, but some state officials believe he will earmark millions of additional dollars for community programs when he presents his budget to the legislature in January.
The budget endorsed by the mental health board calls for $52 million in new mental health initiatives in 1989 and 1990, $52 million more for mental retardation assistance during the same period and an extra $36 million to fight drug and alcohol abuse. These programs would be administered primarily through the 40 community service boards around Virginia.
In addition, the board said it supports spending an additional $14 million on "special community projects" during the two-year period.