Behavioral Health

Virginia Behavioral Health Professional Shortage Areas

The need for behavioral 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 behavioral health professionals workforce.  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 275 certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners practice in Virginia.

VHCF Scholars  — Scholarships for NPs seeking Psychiatric-Mental Health Certification

The Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF) has established a special scholarship program to underwrite tuition and fees for Nurse Practitioners (NP) who return to school to obtain a post master’s certificate as Psychiatric-Mental Health NPs (Psych NPs) 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.  To find out all about this scholarship program, including eligibility criteria and application, materials click here.

Other VHCF Behavioral Health Efforts:

VHCF Grants: Behavioral 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. While funding for this initiative has ended, most of the partnerships established through A New Lease on Life continue. Please contact a VHCF Health Safety Net Program Officer for more information at (804) 828-5804.

Beyond Blue is a three-pronged behavioral health initiative launched in 2017 in celebration of the Foundation’s 25th The three prongs include: the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner scholarship program; Defeating the Deadly Double, a population health initiative designed to improve outcomes for patients diagnosed with Diabetes and Depression; and the promotion of trauma informed care.

Introduction to Trauma and Resilience Webinar Series is a free five-part series of sequential videos that cover the following topics: Understanding Trauma, Trauma’s Impact on Health Behaviors, Building Community Resilience, and Building Individual Resilience.

Defeating the Deadly Double­: is a component of VHCF’s Beyond Blue behavioral health initiative. It was designed to enable health safety net (HSN) organizations that offer co-located behavioral health services and primary medical care to elevate the degree of integration of these services for HSN patients who suffer from the co-morbidities of depression and diabetes.

Trauma Informed Care and Resilience:

VHCF has compiled a list of resources to learn about Trauma Informed Care and Resilience, as well as a free introductory webinar series. Additional in-person workshop and training opportunities are available (email Andrea Lancaster to learn more).

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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