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DBHDS Press Releases

For Immediate Release:  August 1, 2008
[ link to pdf ]

Deadline Extended to August 15 for DMHMRSAS Name Change Feedback

Richmond, VA – Given the great public interest in potential new names for the department, the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services (DMHMRSAS) has extended the submission deadline until August 15, 2008 to ensure stakeholders have the opportunity to register their feedback. 

With near-unanimous support in both the House and Senate, the 2008 General Assembly passed a bill requiring the replacement of the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disabilities” throughout the Code of Virginia. A reenactment clause in the bill required the 2009 Assembly to pass the bill again before becoming law on July 1, 2009, affecting DMHMRSAS and other agencies.  

Because DMHMRSAS will be changing its name with the passage of this bill, now is an appropriate time to modernize the entire 20-year-old name. In recent years, many states have updated their names to ensure they in no way promote stigma or reinforce negative stereotypes.  

Four carefully-worded options were offered for public input. The language in each option meets three goals: shortening the current name and acronym, using positive terms related to the department’s services, and using language more reflective of the department’s mission, values and programs. Also, the public was encouraged to submit comments or alternative suggestions to the four choices. The options include:  

Many of the over 1,250 responses include alternative suggestions to the four choices. The final decision for any change in a state department’s name lies with the Governor and the General Assembly.

The public may submit its feedback via the DMHMRSAS Web site at  


Available to citizens statewide, Virginia’s public Behavioral Health and Developmental services system is comprised of 40 community services boards (CSBs) and 16 state facilities. DMHMRSAS seeks to promote dignity, choice, recovery, and the highest possible level of participation in work, relationships, and all aspects of community life for individuals with mental health, mental retardation or substance abuse disorders.

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