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Expansion of mental health services coming to north-central West Virginia

Valley HealthCare System of North Central West Virginia was recently awarded a four-year, $1 million grant to expand mental health services in north-central West Virginia.

Valley, a nonprofit mental health organization that operates in Marion, Monongalia, Preston and Taylor counties, received confirmation that it was among the 156 behavioral health organizations across the country to receive the grant. Valley will receive $1 million per year for four years, beginning this month.

“This grant will allow us to expand our services and improve the way we serve our clients,” Valley CEO Brian Sharp said. “Once certification is in place, Valley will have the opportunity to be one of the first Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC) in West Virginia.”

The grant was funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as part of a Department of Health and Human Services initiative.

“Improving health outcomes, especially in vulnerable communities, is an urgent priority,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said when the grant was announced in March.

“We are working on an enhanced service delivery model,” Sharp said. “All of our plans will be based on a needs assessment to help us understand how to best serve our community.”

The grants reflect the longstanding commitment of Sens. Capito and Manchin to meet West Virginians’ needs for mental health and substance use treatment.

“Over the past several years, CCBHCs have been instrumental in transforming behavioral health care in their respective communities,” said Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, assistant secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “But we know now that much more support is needed to ensure that every one who needs help can access care when and where they seek it.”

Valley’s grant is specifically for planning, development and implementation — as well as expansion — of programs, including crisis services, screening, diagnosis and risk assessment. Also cited as part of Valley’s expansion goals are enhanced outpatient services for mental health and substance use, targeted case management and community-based mental health care for veterans.

Sharp plans to hire 15 clinical and quality assurance staff to assist with Valley’s expansion in the first months of the grant.

With the hiring of new staff, “we will be able to more effectively revitalize Valley’s children’s and family services,” Sharp said. “We will also expand our peer services to include mental health and veterans.”

Valley’s peer recovery support program has been well received its substance use disorder (SUD) clients. Members of the community who have recovered from addiction provide guidance to those who are in the process of recovery.

The SAMHSA grant comes on the heels of the recently completed Valley Treatment Center, a nine-acre treatment center in Fairmont.

The new campus offers residential treatment for up to 100 people, including a 16-bed crisis residential unit that provides withdrawal management and mental health crisis treatment. Men and women have separate facilities and treatment programs for post-crisis residential substance use treatment.

“Our new treatment center in Fairmont is just the beginning,” Valley COO Gerry Schmidt said. “We have felt for a while that the critical needs of our community are outpacing the availability of treatment. Now, with this grant, we have more options for helping more people.”