Inova Health System is establishing a new program with specialized mental health supports for health care professionals and caregivers as part of a collaboration with VHHA Foundation, the charitable, non-profit division of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA).

Development and implementation of the Care for Caregivers program, which will provide an array of services for health care workers who may need support for behavioral health needs including traumatic exposure, family strain, burnout, and more, is supported with a $180,000 grant awarded to VHHA Foundation by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS). That award is provided through a $2 million federal grant to the Commonwealth. The grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is an emergency award (SAMHSA Grant Award H79FG000285) to help address the impact of mental health and substance use disorders during COVID-19.

“Helping to make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation requires a focus on physical health and emotional health,” said VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “So many people have experienced new and sometimes unexpected emotional responses to the many difficulties caused by factors related to the coronavirus pandemic. That includes dedicated health care professionals providing high-quality medical care to patients while witnessing firsthand how serious, and even deadly, this virus can be. This new program at Inova that is focused on serving the dedicated caregivers on the COVID-19 frontlines is consistent with the ongoing work by hospitals and health systems to enhance behavioral health care in Virginia.”

“Inova is pleased to announce Care for Caregivers, recognizing the unique demands on all of today’s health care professionals in the context of COVID-19,” added Michael Clark, MD, MPH, MBA, Inova Health System’s Chairman of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Services. “In partnership with VHHA and DBHDS with the generous support of SAMHSA, Inova Behavioral Health Services will provide the services to enable the heroic commitments of all of us in health care to continue caring for our patients. We achieve the best for our patients when we are the best of ourselves. Care for Caregivers is the means to achieving that end.”

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it’s more important than ever that we make sure our frontline health care workers have the behavioral health support they need to deal with the stress and demands of their jobs,” said DBHDS Commissioner Alison Land. “These workers give so much of themselves to the people and communities they serve. Making sure they have the resources they need to take care of themselves and cope with the challenges of these unprecedented times will ensure they are able to maintain the high level of care we have come to expect from Virginia’s health care community.”

The Care for Caregivers program will help address the emotional toll associated with COVID-19 experienced by hospital and health care employees through offerings such as behavioral health screening assessments, individual and group therapy opportunities, educational workshops, and co-pay assistance. Program activities will be available virtually via telehealth platforms due to COVID-19.