Virginia ranks 47th lowest in the country for mental health care for children under 18 years of age. A survey of middle and high school students in our state showed that 1 in 5 females and 1 in 10 males in our state have seriously contemplated suicide in the past twelve months. Virginia has a shortage of all mental health providers, ranking 42nd lowest in the country for the number of mental health providers. The Virginia Mental Health Access Program (VMAP) will help close the gap in care for the children and adolescents in our state who are suffering without access to mental health services.
Goals and Objectives:
VMAP is a new statewide program dedicated to improving access to mental health care services in Virginia. Key objectives of the Virginia Mental Health Access Program include: 1. Educate/train pediatric primary care providers (PCPs) on children's mental health care; 2. Train mental health providers to provide tele-psychiatry/telepsychology visits to patients; 3. Facilitate telehealth training and implementation on consults between PCPs and mental health providers; 4. Establish regional mental health teams to support PCPs and patient with mental health concerns; 5. In person mental health screening and assessment for a subset of children and families; 6. Care coordination services to facilitate access to regional mental health resources.
Mental Health Training for PCPs, especially in underserved communities, will focus on the screening, diagnosis, management, treatment, referral, and resources required to address mental health disorders in pediatrics, using existing programs modeled after Project ECHO and the REACH programs. Telehealth Training and Services will prepare providers and extend access to our counties who do not currently have any child psychiatrists or who are severely underserved. Regional VMAP Teams (RVTs) (psychiatrists, psychologist, social workers and care coordinators) in the five regions of the state will provide telephonic, video and e-consults for primary care providers (PCPs) who care for children. Inperson Screening will be provided for patients who are more complex or who cannot obtain timely access to a mental health provider. Care Coordination, placed regionally, will help provide a resource to PCP practices to help them identify and obtain accessible mental health services for pediatric patients and families.
The Virginia Department of Health is partnering with the Virginia Chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and of the Virginia Regional Organization for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for outreach to the providers and to engage them in VMAP. Collaboration with the five regional academic institutions will provide the staffing and workforce necessary to provide the telehealth consultative and patient care services. Stakeholders (i.e., advocates, government experts, payors, health systems and state agencies) will provide guidance that will help maximize its impact, and sustain and expand the program.
The VMAP leadership team will oversee the evaluation of the program with specific emphasis on: 1) program development and implementation, 2) impact on providers, 3) impact on children with mental health issues, 4) overall success in optimizing the care of the children and providing resources, and 5) number and background of providers (type provider, locations) and children involved with the program.