Governor Bryan is taking steps to improve mental health services in the territory.
Over the weekend he issued a “mental healthcare emergency” due to the shortage of psychiatric physicians and behavioural health providers in the Virgin Islands.
The Governor’s Executive Order will facilitate the hiring of mental health professionals by the Department of Health and both the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital and the Schneider Regional Medical Center and will provide the department the opportunity to expand its search for healthcare providers in behavioral health.
“We know well, the lingering issues with mental and behavioral health in the territory. Since hurricanes Irma and Maria the need for these services has grown, and with the departure of the emergency providers, the issue has become more critical. We can no longer ignore the need which will likely increase as we approach another hurricane season. The previous administration made a similar declaration in 2016. This time we need to follow through for the residents who need these services most,” Governor Bryan said
“Declaring this emergency will give our Department of Health access to federal resources and allow the department to expand its search for mental health providers. I thank the providers who have worked tirelessly to fill this void, but we have to provide the help they need. I am calling on the Agencies where these services will be provided to work together creatively to provide this important service to our community.” Governor Bryan added.
Governor Bryan’s Executive Order allows for the immediate deployment of providers from the United States Public Health Services Commissioned Corps and other Federal programs, and also for the suspension of provisions in the Virgin Islands Code that restrict the rehiring of retired mental health professionals.
Governor Bryan’s Order is effective immediately and remains in effect until The Virgin Islands Department of Health confirms that there are enough providers of psychiatric care in the Territory or for 180 days unless renewed by the governor.