Valley HealthCare System Receives $4 Million Grant to Expand Mental Health Services | Local News


MORGANTOWN – For years, mental health services and primary care have been separated from each other, but there is continued pressure to change this paradigm.

Morgantown-based Valley HealthCare System, a nonprofit mental health service provider serving Marion, Monongalia Preston and Taylor counties, was awarded a U.S. Health and Human Services grant this month that will provide 4 million dollars over four years to expand services while taking stock of the effectiveness of their current services.

“This all [grant] creates all kinds of opportunities for us,” said Valley CEO Brian Sharp. “It’s not just about paying us to do more of the same, but paying to adapt and finally implement the things that Valley was founded on, going back to the Community Mental Health Act in the 60s. .”

The grant comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and similar grants have been awarded to similar providers in Valley across the country.

The primary goal of the Mental Health and Addiction Services grant is to create more certified community behavioral health clinics, and with this funding, Valley will become one of the first CCBHCs in the state of West Virginia. .

The grant itself will fund expansions over the next four years within Valley, including major enhancements to its teen and children’s program.

COVID-19 has caused many cuts to Valley mental health services that target children, as many of their therapists with children have had to stay home with their families due to the pandemic.

The first priority with the new grant is to fill their vacant positions and reinvigorate the entire program. A total of 15 clinical positions will be filled over the next few months, including several with children.

“Caring for children is preventative medicine,” Sharp said. “By caring for children at high risk for serious mental illness, you help them grow into happy, healthy adults. The earlier the intervention, the better the results.

During the four-year grant period, each year will conclude with a needs assessment that will help Valley better calibrate its budget for the following year and reassess programs that need improvement.

For the first year, alongside children’s programs, Sharp and his team have identified several areas that will be the focus of the first round of funding.

Valley already operates a mobile crisis unit that responds to mental health emergencies instead of an ambulance. The teams are made up of mental health professionals who are trained to defuse events involving mental health and call for EMS services if needed.

Valley also plans to expand office hours and availability to better meet the needs of the communities it serves.

“One of our characteristics over the years is that we have been quite fluid in trying to meet the needs of the community, but we have never really done a real needs assessment, we generally respond to what we see “, said Valley. Chief Operating Officer Gerry Schmidt.

That grant lands in Valley’s lap just after the organization opened a $7 million, 100-bed facility for long-term substance abuse disorders in Pleasant Valley earlier this year.

Schmidt said the installation worked well. Although there have been some growing pains with the expansion, the indoor hosted programs have been successful and Sharp is excited to see what sort of difference will be made in the other counties Valley serves in the years to come. come up with the new grant.


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