HEALTH

Virginia Gov. McAuliffe signs mental health legislation

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(WJLA) - With Senator Creigh Deeds and his daughter Rebecca by his side, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed legislation intended to prevent another tragedy like the one experienced by the Deeds family.

"Let us be crystal clear -- we have a long, long way to go," McAuliffe said.

On November 19 of 2013, Deeds’ son Gus stabbed his father in the face before shooting and killing himself at their home in rural Bath County.

Before the incident, Gus had been under an emergency custody order, but when a bed could not be found at a nearby facility within the six-hour time limit, Gus was released.

This new legislation will extend custody for up to 12 hours, as well as create a registry for available hospital beds.

Both Deeds and McAuliffe also want more training for mental health providers, and improved communication between the 40 different community service boards across the Commonwealth:

 "I expect over the next four years, with the work of the governor's task force and our study commission, we're gonna remake the system for mental health here," said Creigh Deeds.

Daryl Washington is the Deputy Director of the Fairfax Falls Church Community Services Board, which coordinates mental health services. He says the new laws provide more time and resources when they’re needed most:

"I mean, these could be potential life-saving situations, situations where people are truly in crisis, where they don't know where to turn, they don't know what to do."

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