VHHA Hosts Sixth Annual Virginia Behavioral Health Summit Focused on Building Connections

May 16, 2024

The 2024 Virginia Behavioral Health Summit Features Remarks from Governor Glenn Youngkin, Psychiatric Emergency Expert Dr. Scott Zeller, Stress and Mental Health Expert Tami West, PhD; the Event Brings Together Hundreds of Stakeholders for Networking and Shared Learning About Innovative Behavioral Health Models, Patient-Centered Strategies, and More

RICHMOND, VA – The 2024 Virginia Behavioral Health Summit, whose theme is “Connection: Building a Behavioral Health System That Serves All,” is being held today (Thursday, May 16) at The Westin – Richmond. Presented by the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) and the VHHA Foundation, the annual Summit is an in-person event that attracts hundreds of providers, advocates, and stakeholders from across Virginia who are each working to enhance and strengthen behavioral health care in the Commonwealth to support the needs of patients and families.

This year’s Summit features an appearance by Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, keynote remarks on “Compassionate Behavioral Health” from psychiatric emergency expert Dr. Scott Zeller of Vituity and the University of California-Riverside School of Medicine, and keynote remarks on “Addressing Companion Fatigue in the Helping Professions” from stress and mental health expert Tami West, PhD. Additional Summit programming includes presentations on topics such as psychiatric emergency department EmPATH Units, mood and anxiety in autism, geriatric behavioral health care, practical applications of technology innovations in behavioral health, crisis services, forensic sciences, and substance use relapse prevention. Also featured during the Summit are representatives from Carilion Clinic, Centra Health, Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), HCA Virginia, Riverside Health System, Sentara Health, Summit BHC, the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), and Williams Mullen. View the Summit program brochure with speaker bios and sponsor information here.

“Finding solutions to thorny issues can be difficult, which is why bringing people together is so important. That is certainly the case when it comes to our behavioral health system,” said Michael Elliott, VCU Health Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, and Chair of the VHHA Board of Directors. “It takes cooperation among hospitals, government agencies, private providers, and other stakeholders to identify best practices and new ideas that can be implemented. It is our hope that the 2024 Virginia Behavioral Health Summit can be an incubator where members of this community can connect and collaborate towards that progress.”

“Reinforcing Virginia’s behavioral health system to continue meeting patient needs requires constant vigilance because challenges abound from workforce shortages to growing demand for inpatient, outpatient, and community-based services,” added VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “Events like the 2024 Virginia Behavioral Health Summit help foster connections and promote collaboration as we work together to address shared challenges.”

Virginia has taken meaningful strides in recent years to improve access to timely behavioral health care services. Governor Youngkin has successfully worked with the Virginia General Assembly to invest significant new funding in mental health and substance use treatment services through the Right Help, Right Now initiative to address a range of needs including workforce development efforts, crisis intervention services, alternative transportation, and community-based supports. Meanwhile, Virginia hospitals have added hundreds of adult and pediatric psychiatric beds at facilities across the state and annually handle tens of thousands of voluntary and involuntary psychiatric inpatient admissions – more than 60,500 such admissions occurred in 2022, with private hospitals handling more than 55,600 (91.8 percent) of total admissions. Data from 2020 through the first half of 2023 also shows a statewide increase in the number of pediatric patient (ages 0-18) emergency department visits for anxiety and depression. This data is a reflection of the broader demand for behavioral health treatment services, and it helps illustrate the value of events like the Summit in bringing stakeholders together to share their expertise and ideas.

VHHA and the VHHA Foundation extend their gratitude to Summit speakers and attendees for their participation and to the following sponsors whose support helps make this year’s event 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. Its vision is through the power of collaboration to be recognized as a driving force behind making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation. Connect with VHHA through Facebook, X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and TikTok.