Making Brighter Days Possible

Making Brighter Days Possible:
Increasing Access to Behavioral Health Services

The Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) is making up to $1 million in grants available for Making Brighter Days Possible: Increasing Access to Behavioral Health Services (MBDP). This special initiative is intended to increase access to behavioral health services for uninsured and medically underserved Virginians.

VHCF anticipates awarding 5 to 12 eighteen month grants to:

  • Support the hiring of behavioral health clinicians who will help expand mental health services in health safety net (HSN) organizations that already provide them;
  • Hire behavioral health professionals to initiate the delivery of behavioral health services in organizations that do not offer them; or
  • Provide behavioral health services via telemedicine.

This initiative is made possible by a generous $1 million grant from Sentara Healthcare and Optima Health.


The World Health Organization defines mental health as “the state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” (World Health Organization, 2014)  Mental health is essential to personal well-being, family and interpersonal relationships, and the ability to contribute to community or society. (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2012)

Mental health and physical health are closely connected. Mental well-being plays a major role in one’s ability to maintain good physical health. Mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety can significantly impair one’s ability to participate in health-promoting behaviors. Similarly, problems with physical health, such as chronic diseases, can have a serious impact on mental health and decrease a person’s ability to participate in treatment and recovery. (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2012)

By all measures, the need for behavioral health services in Virginia is significant:

  • Access to behavioral health services is the most critical service gap identified in Community Health Needs Assessments of local nonprofit hospitals;
  • Three quarters of the state’s localities are federally-designated as mental health professional shortage areas (MHPSA) – 40% of all Virginians live there.
  • Behavioral health concerns are among the top three conditions of Virginia’s health safety net patients.

Overall, Virginia ranks 32nd in the nation in access to mental health services (Mental Health America, 2016).

If Virginia is to even come close to meeting its goal of becoming the healthiest state in the nation (Virginia Plan for Well-Being), the importance of timely access to quality mental health services for all cannot be understated.

Behavioral health is a VHCF priority. In the last ten years alone, VHCF has awarded more than $6 million in behavioral health-related grants.

VHCF embarks on Making Brighter Days Possible (MBDP) to further increase access to behavioral health services, especially in MHPSAs, with a secondary emphasis on enhancing the degree of behavioral health integration in MBDP grantees.


To be eligible for funding from MBDP, applicants must be:

  • A private non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status; or
  • An organization with a 501 (c) 3 fiscal sponsor.
  • Free clinics or community health center applicants must be in good standing with either the VAFCC or the VaCHA.
  • Attended the mandatory Pre-Proposal Workshop.
  • Submit a proposal that includes a plan to sustain the initiative beyond the 18-month grant period.
  • Submit 5 copies of its proposal to VHCF.

Please Note: The deadline for submitting proposals has ended.