New Va. mental health panel has first meeting

In a Sept. 25, 2009 photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds spends time with his son Gus, left, on the road to Halifax, Va., between campaign events. Virginia State Police confirmed Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, that Creigh Deeds was stabbed multiple times and his son Gus, 24, was shot and killed at Deeds' Home in Bath County, Va., during a Tuesday morning assault. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Hyunsoo Leo Kim)
In a Sept. 25, 2009 photo, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds spends time with his son Gus, left, on the road to Halifax, Va., between campaign events. Virginia State Police confirmed Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, that Creigh Deeds was stabbed multiple times and his son Gus, 24, was shot and killed at Deeds' Home in Bath County, Va., during a Tuesday morning assault. (AP Photo/The Virginian-Pilot, Hyunsoo Leo Kim)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia lawmakers are promising a top-to-bottom review of the state’s mental health system with the goal of making it a model for the rest of the country.

A new mental health reform panel met for the first time Monday in Richmond.

The panel elected state Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, as its chairman. Deeds has made improving the state’s mental health system his top priority following his mentally ill son’s suicide last year. Gus Deeds stabbed his father then killed himself hours after he was released from emergency custody because mental health officials could not find an available psychiatric bed in the time allotted by law.

Sen. Deeds said Monday the panel has a broad mandate to recommend and help implement improvements to the state’s mental health system.

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