State Sen. Creigh Deeds Tours Mental Health Facilities in Northern Virginia

A Virginia lawmaker whose son died in the midst of a mental health crisis visited Northern Virginia Thursday looking for answers.

State Sen. Creigh Deeds’ (D) quest to reform mental health services began a little less than two years ago after his 24-year-old son, Gus, attacked him, then killed himself.

Deeds now heads a legislative committee tasked with improving treatment for the mentally ill. He and fellow lawmakers did some fact-finding today at Pathway Homes, a non-profit providing housing and services for 500 mentally ill adults. What's especially unique is the organization provides housing in one of the 193 properties it owns leases or managers for as long as an individual needs it

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Sue Zywokarte went to Pathways in 2002 suffering from severe depression. But in time, she said, the combination of stable housing and treatment helped. She went back to college.

Deeds and the delegation also toured Fairfax County's new Community Services Board facility -- often a starting point for many with mental health challenges. Staffers wore buttons reading "Diversion First," signifying a new effort to divert some mentally ill offenders away from jail and into treatment.

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