VHHA Hosts Fifth Virginia Behavioral Health Summit to Bring Together Hundreds of Stakeholders Focused on Working to Improve Mental Health and Substance Use Care in Virginia

June 22, 2023

The 2023 Virginia Behavioral Health Summit Features Keynote Remarks from Bestselling Author Beth Macy, Appearances by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, Virginia Health and Human Resources Secretary John Littel, Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Commissioner Nelson Smith, Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services Director Cheryl Roberts, as well as Providers and Stakeholders from Across the Commonwealth

RICHMOND, VA – The 2023 Virginia Behavioral Health Summit, whose theme is “Together: A Vision for Improved Behavioral Health Access,” is being held today (Thursday, June 22, 2023) at The Westin Richmond. The Summit arrives at a critical moment with demand rising for mental health care and substance use treatment and new state resources being allocated to enhance access to services and to support behavioral health workforce development in the form of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s “Right Help, Right Now” plan.

In this climate, the Summit represents an opportunity for clinicians, providers, stakeholders, and advocates who understand the complexities, strengths, and challenges of our behavioral health system to come together for learning, networking, and collaboration towards the shared goal of enhancing the behavioral health system for patients and families.

The Summit features keynote remarks from New York Times bestselling author Beth Macy, as well as appearances by Governor Youngkin, Virginia Health and Human Resources Secretary John Littel, Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Commissioner Nelson Smith, and Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services Director Cheryl Roberts. Panel discussions and breakout sessions will cover topics including patient choices, youth behavioral health, treatment access and continuity of care, and behavioral health and criminal justice. Representatives from hospitals, community-based organizations, government agencies, non-profits, and more are all involved in Summit programming. The Summit program brochure with full agenda details can be viewed online here.

“The behavioral health community in Virginia is committed to making meaningful gains in access to care and treatment options that are optimized for the distinct care needs of patients and families,” said Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center CEO Kurt Hooks, PhD, LPC-S, MPH, who Chairs the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) Behavioral Health Executive Steering Committee. “Accomplishing that goal requires us to collaborate across disciplines with public and private sector partners who are engaged in this important work. The Virginia Behavioral Health Summit is an opportunity for stakeholders to come together, benefit from each other, and deepen working relationships as we pursue our goal of better serving patients.”

Added VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton: “Meeting the needs of patients and families requires a multi-disciplinary approach that incorporates investments in inpatient, outpatient, and community-based services so Virginia can continue to build ample treatment capacity. The addition of inpatient psychiatric beds at hospitals across Virginia, the adoption of new treatment program models, and investments in workforce development indicate we are making progress. Bringing together stakeholders and behavioral health professionals through events like this Summit is a vital part of the process as we continue this important work.”

In addition to all the Summit participants, VHHA thanks these event sponsors whose generous support has helped make the 2023 Virginia Behavioral Health Summit possible:

About VHHA: The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is an alliance of 111 hospitals and 26 health delivery systems that develops and advocates for sound health care policy in the Commonwealth. Its mission is to achieve excellence in both health care and health to make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation. Its vision is through collaboration with members and stakeholders, to ensure the sustainability of Virginia health care system, transform the delivery of care to promote lower costs and high value across the continuum of care, and to improve health for all Virginians. Connect with VHHA through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and YouTube.


Julian Walker
Vice President of Communications
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