Current Virginia Health Care Foundation
Behavioral Health Initiatives

Virginia is in the midst of a mental health crisis due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and a variety of societal stressors. Demand for mental health services has skyrocketed and there is insufficient capacity to meet the demand.

National and local data underscore the need. Virginia ranks 39th in the country in access to mental health care and 41st in availability of mental health services.  Community health needs assessments conducted by hospitals throughout the state consistently rank inadequate access to mental health services as the top unmet need.

The Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) has devoted even more attention and resources to increasing the availability of mental health services to uninsured and underserved Virginians, as a result.

VHCF is focused on increasing the number of licensed behavioral health professionals to help address the current need and coming retirements of many.  Its initiatives include:

– A Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Scholarship Program just entering its sixth year. (53 scholarships awarded with more than half to people of color)

Boost 200, a state-funded pilot program to produce 100 more Licensed Clinical Social Workers and 100 more Licensed Professional Counselors by paying for the supervision of clinical hours required for licensure.

Grants for community organizations and health safety net practices to hire and provide required supervision to pre-licensees preparing for licensure as LCSWs or LPCs.

– Support of Virginia‘s Behavioral Health Student Loan Repayment Program and one-time matching funds for behavioral health professionals applying to Virginia‘s Student Loan Repayment Program.

To help inform state and its own philanthropic investments, in late 2021, VHCF conducted and released an Assessment of the Capacity of Virginia‘s Licensed Behavioral Health Workforce.  The results were alarming and have stimulated a variety of actions and initiatives, including Boost 200.

VHCF also provides education, training, and networking opportunities to behavioral health professionals and interested stakeholders via its semi-annual Mental Health Roundtables and its Behavioral Health Hub, which reaches more than 1000 people each week.

VHCF has also produced op-eds regarding the Commonwealth‘s behavioral health needs and actions by the General Assembly  and state policymakers to address those needs. In addition, in 2022 VHCF established a new set of awards for Virginia Mental Health Champions.


As a public/private partnership, VHCF has worked hand-in-hand with the state and its many private sector partners to identify and address a range of gaps in and barriers to the availability of primary health care, including behavioral health, during the 31 years it has been an operation.

For more information, contact Deborah Oswalt, VHCF’s Executive Director (

Last Updated on January 30, 2023