Free virtual mental health services pilot program to start in Virginia

Free virtual mental health services pilot program to start in Virginia

In Virginia, demand for behavioral and mental health treatments has skyrocketed in recent years, particularly among people who are medically underserved and belong to lower-income households.

The Bradley Free Clinic in Roanoke was among the free and charitable clinics across the state that the Virginia Telemental Health Initiative (VTMHI), a new pro bono program that offers free and practical telemental health services to qualified Virginians who are uninsured launched in January.

The Bradley Free Clinic's Behavioral Health Program Manager, Christine Wright, joined us on Here At Home to discuss the services offered and how to access them.

The free programs, which are backed by volunteer mental health professionals, offer a variety of therapies, including those for patients who are struggling with behavioral and mental health issues as well as symptoms of sadness and anxiety. Enrolled patients at participating free and charitable clinics receive all services virtually through telehealth, a safe and widely used patient-provider arrangement that exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nelson Smith, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Behavioral and Developmental Services (DBHDS), a key proponent of the initiative, said, "This innovative program addresses a critical need across the Commonwealth, particularly for Virginians whose income levels put vital mental health services out of reach." "VTMHI underscores our fundamental commitment to ensuring the most disadvantaged and underserved communities in Virginia have access to the best treatment, particularly in the crucial field of mental health services," the organization said.

Brock Hughes Medical Center (Wytheville), Charlottesville Free Clinic, Free Clinic of Franklin County, and Health Brigade are a few additional nonprofit clinics that are testing the service (Richmond). The VTMHI program will start being made available by the clinics in January. Throughout 2023, more clinics will gradually join the effort.

To find out if they are eligible and to schedule an appointment, patients can get in touch with the clinics directly.

According to Wright, VTMHI will enable their clinic better serve the needs of the community and give patients who are currently on their waiting list for mental health services quick access to care.

You must be at least 18 years old, a resident of the Roanoke Valley or the surrounding area, and have an income that is at or below 300% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to qualify for care at Bradley (Federal Poverty Level).

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