CHIP: Mental + Behavioral Health

Mental + Behavioral healthcare integration and expansion

mental behavioral health goalsMental health problems are among the most common health conditions in the U.S., with one in five adults experiencing mental illness each year. With the onset of COVID-19, the already strained mental health system was hit by a perfect storm of personal fear and anxiety, societal and political upheaval, forced isolation, loss of life, and an economic downturn, coupled with unprecedented challenges for the behavioral health workforce. Black, Latino, and multi-racial adults in Virginia reported higher rates of depression throughout the pandemic than White and Asian Virginians.

At the same time, Virginia has a long-standing shortage of behavioral health workers, with access to behavioral health providers varying widely within the District, exacerbated by a critical shortage of in-patient psychiatric beds.

Although the CHIP objectives for Mental + Behavioral Health are not yet finalized, the goals and recommendations inherited from MAPP2Health were generated by the CHIP lead convener (the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition) with input from MAPP2Health participants. The Workgroup is expected to address the need to expand capacity for racially and culturally responsive behavioral health care; increase access to care (such as by increasing in-patient psychiatric beds); and promote policies, systems, and environments that improve behavioral health and wellness.

Overview of Contributors: The Mental + Behavioral Health workgroup is still forming and partners include both health systems, behavioral health organizations, criminal justice organizations, and other groups.

Overview of Objectives: The Mental + Behavioral Health Workgroup is still forming and identifying priorities and next steps for tackling the CHIP’s goals.

Proposed CHIP Goals + Objectives

Proposed Goal Proposed Objective Convenor Proposed Contributor
Expand capacity for racially and culturally responsive behavioral health care
  • Implement organizational policies and practices to eliminate racial and cultural inequities in behavioral health
  • Invest in racially and culturally responsive behavioral health services
  • Implement comprehensive strategies to address the behavioral health workforce shortage
 Increase access to care
  • Integrate mental health and substance use services in primary care settings
  • Develop mental health partial hospitalization programs
  • Improve behavioral health interventions in the emergency department
  • Create in-patient psychiatric beds for children and youth
Integrate Digital Navigators into the healthcare landscape
  • Assess how many Digital Navigators are needed Districtwide and specify the role
  • Identify or develop the best training curricula for digital navigators
  • Provide training for digital navigator skills
Promote policies, systems, and environments that improve behavioral health and wellness
  • Expand stigma reduction and mental health literacy training in places where we live, work, learn, and play
  • Advocate improved financing and insurance coverage for behavioral health needs
  • Expand access to housing supports, telehealth, and transportation for individuals with behavioral health needs



The workgroup for the Mental + Behavioral Health policy target includes the convener, Community Mental Health & Wellness Coalition, and UVA Health. One objective of the workgroup is to expand community services for mental and behavioral health and these partners are doing just that. Join UVA Health, Wisdom & Wellbeing, and the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition on Tuesday, May 23 at Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church to learn Stress First Aid from Charlottesville Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade.

Stress First Aid is a mental health model of self-care and peer support that helps to identify and sustainably address stress. Registration is encouraged but walk-ins welcome!

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