The Henrico Citizen

First statewide virtual free mental health clinic launches

The Virginia Telemental Health Initiative has become the first statewide virtual free mental health clinic, following a pilot phase.

Through this initiative, eligible uninsured or under-insured Virginians now can access mental health services through a virtual platform. The program is operated under the leadership of the Virginia Telehealth Network in partnership with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, the University of Virginia Karen S. Rheuban Center for Telehealth, the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center, and VTMHI’s volunteers and free clinic participants.

The pilot program launched in December 2022 and has seen 2,000 telemental health sessions scheduled with an average of 11 days between referral and a patient’s first appointment. This year, VTMHI has welcomed 12 new referring clinics, which joined 10 existing partners, including CrossOver Healthcare Ministry of Henrico and Richmond and Health Brigade of Richmond.

As a virtual clinic, VTMHI collaborates with volunteer pre-licensed mental health providers in the process of completing licensure to provide teletherapy services to eligible patients who are referred by participating free and charitable clinics. The VTMHI model is designed to expand access to mental health services and strengthen Virginia’s mental health workforce.

“Virginia’s free and charitable clinics have seen a 10% increase in patient demand for mental health care services,” said Rufus Phillips, the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics CEO. “Partnering with VTMHI has helped put qualified mental health resources just a click away for many Virginians in need who have traditionally experienced barriers preventing them from accessing services. We’re proud of the increased access VTMHI has accomplished over the past year and look forward to working with them to expand this crucial resource.”

For details, click here.

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