VCU Health opens doors to new mental health facility for children

Hiba Ahmad |November 26, 2017

he Virginia Treatment Center for Children has a new home thanks to VCU Health, the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and a $56 million grant from the General Assembly.

The VTCC focuses on addressing and providing resources for children dealing with mental health disorders ranging from anxiety to depression and providing gender and sexuality related mental health resources.

“When VCU assumed stewardship of VTCC in 1991, we recognized the importance of providing children in the community and commonwealth with high-quality mental health care,” said VCU President Michael Rao in a news release. “I am proud of the work done by the health care experts at VTCC to ensure that every child has a chance to succeed.”

Roughly 1 in 5 minors suffer from severe cases of mental disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

In 2013, the NIMH found 1 in 10 children nationwide, or 2.6 million adolescents, experienced some form of major depression. Of those, 7.7 percent of minors said that it caused them severe impairment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found some of the most common mental health disorders include ADHD which affects 8.5 percent of children between 8 and 15 years, mood disorders and major depression.

Marsha Rappley, CEO of VCU Health and vice president of health sciences, hopes the new center will inspire mental health facilities across the country.

“It eases the stigma surrounding mental illness and improves access to care,” Rappley said in a news release. “We’re also doubling space to train future generations of children’s mental health providers and conduct innovative research initiatives that will enhance treatment and prevention efforts.”

The VTCC will provide inpatient and outpatient services to children from across the state — 50 percent of which come from outside of the Richmond metropolitan area.

The new center will include some of the most updated features in psychiatric care including, private inpatient rooms with accommodations for a parent to spend the night; 20 outpatient consult rooms; occupational, recreation, art, music and play therapy; inpatient school programs; a gym and recreational areas; gardens and greenspace.

The center will also include the Children’s Mental Health Resource Center, which will serve as the research branch of the new facility. The goal is to pioneer new treatments to better equip health professionals in tackling and diagnosing mental health disorders.

“We look forward to opening our doors to children and families, and to a new day for children’s mental health care in our community,” said Deborah Davis, CEO of VCU Hospitals and Clinics.

The VTCC originally was located in a 50-year-old building but is now located in a more modern facility downtown that has a warmer and comforting environment, according to a VCU news release.

Mental health facilities have notoriously been depicted as dark and unwelcoming. The VTCC challenges that stereotype by providing a space that is backed by years of pediatric psychiatric research.

The new two-story, 190,000 foot facility will begin to accept patients in early 2018.

The CT