The State of Virginia and Mental Health Evaluations

Virginia is one of the most common states to see mental health evaluations ordered by the courts. The state has a long history of using mental health evaluations as a tool to give residents the support, guidance, and treatment they need to get better. 


The Cost of Court Ordered Assessments In Virginia 

The cost of the evaluation will be paid for out of pocket or in some contexts, by the court. The evaluation usually takes place quickly but can take longer if the mental health professional needs more time to assess your current mental health to make the best decision.

How Virginia Deals with Substance Abuse

Virginia is a state that has been hit hard by the opioid crisis. In 2015, it ranked second for overdose deaths per capita, just behind West Virginia. The following year, 1,337 opioid deaths in the state were increased from 928 deaths in 2015.

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) oversees substance abuse services across the state. This includes providing funding and support to community-based organizations and treatment providers and developing policies and standards that help people struggling with addiction or mental health. A recent report by DBHDS shows more than 775 beds for substance use disorder treatment in Virginia, and these are spread throughout a network of more than 100 community-based service providers across the state.

Most providers offer outpatient services, but some offer residential care or partial hospitalization programs (PHPs). PHPs typically provide intensive day treatment services for people recovering from substance use disorders who need additional support before returning home or transitioning into less intensive outpatient services. Similarly, the state government also assists those who need help in combating substance abuse but do not have the resources to pay for the treatment. The state's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services (ADAS) provides funding for a variety of treatment and prevention programs, including:

  • Substance abuse education

  • Substance abuse counseling

  • Inpatient and outpatient treatment

  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)

  • Intensive case management

Compared to other states, Virginia provides many resources to help those struggling with addiction. 

Steps on How to Get a Court-Ordered Assessment in Virginia

If you are seeking a court-ordered assessment in Virginia, there are a few steps you will need to take, and here are more details on what you can expect:


Step 1: Seek legal help from an attorney.

If you have been charged with a crime, the first step is to speak with your attorney. Your attorney will be able to advise you on whether or not you should seek a court-ordered evaluation and can help you navigate the process. If you are facing criminal charges, you should speak with a public defender or private criminal defense attorney. You should also consult with a family law attorney if you are going through a divorce, child custody case, or PFA proceedings.


Step 2: Choose a mental health professional

If the court grants your request, you will need to choose a mental health professional to conduct the evaluation. A social worker or licensed professional counselor can easily give you an accurate assessment. You should consult with your attorney to help you choose a qualified professional. 

You can also find a list of qualified professionals on the Virginia Board of Psychology's website. Once you have selected a professional, you must contact their office to schedule an evaluation.

Step 3: Complete the evaluation

Your mental health professional will administer the evaluation, which is an interview to decide if you could benefit from treatment or guidance, or if treatment is needed at all. 

Step 4: Receive the Results

Once the evaluation is complete, the professional will email you with a report that details their findings and may include a recommendation for a counselor or support group. 


Tips for Getting a Court-Ordered Assessment in Virginia

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when getting a court-ordered assessment in Virginia:

1.) Be prepared to answer questions about your mental health history, substance abuse history, and criminal history.

2.) Be honest with your evaluator. They genuinely want to help improve your situation, and they must have accurate information to make the best recommendations for your case.

3.) Be aware that the results of your evaluation can be used in court. For example, if you are found to have a mental illness, the court may order you to receive treatment to help you improve.

4.) Ensure you understand all the costs associated with the evaluation before scheduling it. Some insurance plans will cover the cost of an evaluation, but others may not.

5.) Be sure to follow up with your attorney after you receive the results of your evaluation. They will need to review the report and determine the best use in your case.


Getting a court-ordered assessment in Virginia may seem intimidating at first, but remember it is a very easy process, designed to help you get the results, treatment, or guidance you need. By following the steps above and working with a qualified professional, you can get your assessment without any problems. Just remember to be honest, follow your attorney's advice, and be prepared for the possibility of treatment.