VHHA Hosts Fourth Annual Virginia Behavioral Health Summit, a Virtual Event for Mental Health Professionals, Advocates, and Stakeholders to Address Challenges and Opportunities Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic 

September 23, 2021

The 2021 Virginia Behavioral Health Summit Scheduled for Sept. 23 (9:30 a.m.-3 p.m.) Features Keynote Speakers David Granirer of Stand Up For Mental Health and Zuri Walker of Zuri Walker Coaching and is Presented with Support from Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Sentara Healthcare, Universal Health Services Inc., Good Neighbor, the Medical Society of Virginia, Molina Healthcare, HCA Virginia Health System, Inova Health System, the Virginia Academy of Physician Assistants, the Virginia Rural Health Association, and the Virginia Association of Community-Based Providers

RICHMOND, VA – The profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on community health in the Commonwealth extends well beyond the thousands of Virginians who have contracted the virus. It has also negatively impacted the mental and emotional well-being of Virginians, many of whom have increasingly sought out mental health and substance use treatment services during the pandemic. Against that backdrop, the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) is hosting the fourth annual Virginia Behavioral Health Summit on Sept. 23 as a free virtual event to bring together hundreds of behavioral health providers, subject matter experts, educators, and other stakeholders for a focused educational session on behavioral health challenges and opportunities arising from the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Summit, whose theme is “Coming out of Isolation: Our NEXT Normal,” will feature keynote remarks from David Granirer, a counselor, stand-up comic, and the author of The Happy Neurotic: How Fear and Angst Can Lead to Happiness and Success. Granirer is the founder of Stand Up For Mental Health (SMH), a program that teaches standup comedy to people who struggle with mental health challenges as a way to build confidence and combat stigmas. The Summit will also feature remarks from Kurt Hooks, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center and the Chair of VHHA’s Behavioral Health Committee; Alison Land, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS); the Honorable Rodney Willett, an elected member of the Virginia House of Delegates; and the Honorable Emmett Hanger, an elected member of the Virginia Senate. Zuri Walker, principal of Zuri Walker Coaching, will deliver a closing keynote address.

Summit breakout sessions will cover topics including the impact of COVID-19 on behavioral health, improving behavioral health outcomes for school-aged children, strengthening the behavioral health workforce, non-traditional behavioral health care models, current trends in substance use disorder treatment, and the future of telehealth and behavioral health.

“Virginia hospitals and other health care providers accommodate thousands of patients annually who seek care for behavioral health and substance use treatment needs. The demand for these services has grown in recent years and that trend has intensified during the pandemic,” said VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “While utilization of most hospital-based services declined in 2020, Virginia hospitals and health systems saw a significant increase in demand for behavioral health and substance use treatment services last year amid the pandemic. This underscores the need to strengthen our behavioral health care system moving forward. Accomplishing that requires collaboration from public and private health care providers, advocates, stakeholders, families, patients, and partners who each have a voice in identifying strategies to meet the treatment needs of our fellow Virginians. Bringing together many of these partners at the 2021 Virginia Behavioral Health Summit is an important step forward in our continuing journey to enhance behavioral health services in Virginia.”

More information about the Summit, including a program agenda and sponsorship and registration information, can be found online here. VHHA offers its sincere thanks and appreciation for those partner organizations whose sponsorship support has helped make the 2021 Virginia Behavioral Health Summit a reality, including:

About VHHA: The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is an alliance of 110 hospitals and 25 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 FacebookTwitterYouTubeLinkedIn, and Instagram.


Julian Walker
Vice President of Communications
(804) 297-3193 office
(804) 304-7402 mobile