Shenandoah Community Health Clinic to offer free mental health services
WOODSTOCK, Va. (WHSV) - The Shenandoah Community Health Clinic in Woodstock will now be able to provide more mental health services to the community. It’s the latest clinic to become part of the pilot program of the Virginia Tele-Mental Health Initiative (VTMHI).
“The group itself is a non-profit organization that was started in the last few years to provide telehealth services to areas that are underserved and are lower income areas,” said Jonathan Huffman, Behavioral Health Director for Shenandoah Community Health Clinic and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
Since last year VTMHI has assigned volunteer clinicians to clinics in underserved areas to provide telehealth counseling sessions to communities across Virginia. The clinicians are pre-licensed with Master’s Degrees and are working toward becoming licensed professional counselors or social workers.
“They’re initially assigning us three clinicians but it’s also based on need so once we get the referrals going we might end up opening the flood gates and we could get referrals. People who are adults and uninsured can reach out to the clinic here,” said Huffman.
The program being free and not requiring insurance is a big win for the clinic, as Huffman said that 11% of Shenandoah County’s population is uninsured. The program will help fill a big need for more mental health resources in Shenandoah County, as it has been tough for the clinic to hire new clinicians due to a statewide shortage.
“We provide services in the clinic but we’re also in all nine of the Shenandoah County Public Schools as well providing outpatient counseling to students during the school day in the schools so the need is definitely there,” said Huffman. “Mental Health providers, the ratio in Shenandoah County is 1790 to 1 whereas the average in Virginia is 450 to 1. So we’re pretty far behind as far as availability of clinicians.”
The program has already launched at the Clinic and anyone interested in connecting with a clinician can do so here. VTHMI hopes to launch a statewide virtual clinic by 2024.
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