Behavioral Health

The need for mental health services for Virginians has never been more clear.

While some help is available for those suffering from the most serious mental illnesses, few resources are available for uninsured Virginians trying to cope with depression, anxiety and other similar mental health challenges.  Untreated, these conditions interfere with families, jobs and lives.

How VHCF is helping

VHCF has helped to underwrite, and encourage the approach of integrating delivery of behavioral health services and medical care to free clinics and health centers through a variety of grants and mental health roundtables.

While the results related to patient outcomes have been remarkable, the experience has exposed the shortages in Virginia’s workforce of behavioral health professionals.  Much of the state has been designated a mental health professional shortage area.  As a result, recruitment of behavioral health professionals often takes months, and turnover is not unusual, leaving many positions unfilled for long periods of time. The shortages are particularly acute with Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners:  only 206 licensed Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners practice in Virginia.

VHCF Scholars  — Scholarships for NPs seeking Psych-Mental Health certification

The Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) has established a special scholarship program (VHCF Scholars) to underwrite the costs of tuition and fees for Nurse Practitioners (NP) who return to school to obtain a post master’s certificate as Psych-Mental Health NPs (PMHNPs) who will return to work in a health safety net setting.  This is a wonderful opportunity for nurse practitioners to gain valuable training as psych-mental health specialists and help address a huge unmet need in Virginia.  Click here to find out all about this scholarship program, including eligibility criteria and application materials.

Mental Health for Primary Care Providers – A Webinar Series on Pharmacotherapy and Diagnostic Considerations

This webinar series was developed by VHCF to provide continuing education for health care professionals who provide primary care to individuals with mental health conditions, and may not have mental health specialists available either onsite or in the community.

Based on the priority needs identified in an April 2013 survey of Virginia’s safety net medical directors conducted by VHCF, two modules were developed: Pharmacotherapy for Psychiatric Disorders in Primary Care, and Diagnostic Considerations for Psychiatric Disorders in Primary Care. Each module is approximately 1.5-2 hours in length, and the cost to register is $25/webinar.

For more details, visit Mental Health for Primary Care Providers – A Webinar Series on Pharmacotherapy and Diagnostic Considerations.

Other VHCF mental health efforts:

VHCF Grants: Mental health project funding for new initiatives is available through VHCF’s grants dedicated to increasing access to health care.

VHCF Mental Health Provider Resources include access to regular Mental Health Roundtables and a host of reports, materials, podcasts and data on the successes and challenges of providing behavioral health care to Virginia’s uninsured and underserved.

A New Lease On Life: Health for Virginians with Mental Illness  was a $2 million special initiative to provide uninsured Virginians with treatment for basic mental health services, and to provide primary medical care and prescriptions medicines to uninsured Virginians with serious mental illness. It combined the expertise and talents of local health safety net organizations (free clinics, community health centers) and local community services boards to address serious unmet needs through two innovative approaches.

Through these and other grants and programs, VHCF is helping improve access to mental health care for Virginians statewide.

Changing Lives


“I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t gotten help.”

I didn’t realize that I had post-traumatic stress syndrome from all the abuse I suffered both as a child and an adult. It made me feel trapped and stupid.  I was angry all the time and kept everything bottled up until I exploded, because I didn’t have the coping skills to deal with that anger. […]

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