New Initiative Increases Access to Behavioral Health Services

New Initiative Increases Access to Behavioral Health Services

Virginia Health Care Foundation initiative is making behavioral health care more accessible to underserved and uninsured Virginians.

[Richmond, Virginia] – The Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) has awarded over $835,000 in grants to four community health centers to expand the behavioral health services available to their patients.

Making Brighter Days Possible: Increasing Access to Behavioral Health Services (MBDP) is a special 18-month VHCF initiative intended to increase access to behavioral health services for uninsured and medically underserved Virginians. This initiative is made possible by a generous $1 million grant from Sentara Healthcare/Optima Health.

While the need for behavioral health services exists throughout Virginia, it is most acute in Virginia‘s mental health professional shortage areas.  These are localities within the state that have too few behavioral health professionals to serve the number of people who live there. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has designated 75% of Virginia localities as mental health professional shortage areas; 40% of all Virginians live in them.

VHCF’s grants are being used to hire behavioral health professionals in some of these shortage areas to provide mental health services.  All incorporate tele-mental health for some component of their work.  The following organizations received the grants:

  • Central Virginia Health Services (CVHS) – $176,250 to add a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) to the primary medical care currently provided at its Petersburg Health Care Alliance medical practice. The LCSW will use tele-mental health to provide services to CVHS patients at Southside Community Health Center in Brunswick County and at Charlotte Primary Care in Charlotte County.
  • Hampton Roads Community Health Center (HRCHC) – $210,932 to hire a full-time Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a part-time contracted Telepsychiatrist to provide behavioral health services at HRCHC’s Park Place and Ocean View locations.
  • Johnson Health Center (JHC) – $286,600 to hire a full-time Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and a full-time Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) to serve pediatric and adult patients at JHC’s Amherst County, Bedford County, and Campbell County sites. The grant will also fund a telehealth device enabling JHC psychiatrists to provide telepyschiatry services to patients.
  • Tri-Area Community Health (TACH) – $161,969 to hire a full-time clinical psychologist for its practice in Floyd County and to increase the hours of a Telepsychiatrist to expand services to TACH’s sites in Carroll and Franklin Counties.

“We are delighted to be able to help bring more mental health services to these medical practices, said Deborah Oswalt, VHCF’s Executive Director. “VHCF is dedicated to addressing the shortage of mental health services in Virginia. With the capacity to provide additional treatment, more Virginians will be able to obtain the mental health care they need.”

The Virginia Health Care Foundation is a non-profit public/private partnership with a mission to increase access to primary health care for uninsured and medically underserved Virginians. The Foundation was initiated by the General Assembly and its Joint Commission on Health Care in 1992. Since its inception, it has funded 421 community-based projects across the Commonwealth, and its programs and partnerships have touched the lives of more than 700,000 uninsured Virginians.

For more information about VHCF and its programs, visit or call (804) 828-5804.

Last Updated on January 6, 2020