MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine mental health professionals have been awarded a $1,050,000 grant to implement and expand the West Virginia Addiction Intervention Model (WV AIM) in southern West Virginia counties. The grant will support telebehavioral health services in partnership with Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center.

“This grant will allow the WVU Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry to expand its outreach efforts into counties that have been hit particularly hard by the opioid addiction epidemic,” Kari-Beth Law, M.D., telepsychiatry director at the WVU Medicine Chestnut Ridge Center, said. “By providing more access to treatment options for substance use and co-occurring mental health conditions for adults and children, we can begin to lessen the impact of addiction in our communities.”

The WV AIM model focuses on expanding the Intensive Outpatient Program already active at the WVU Medicine Chestnut Ridge Center. This form of treatment includes group, family, and individual therapies; attendance of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings each week; and medical management with the goal of promoting sobriety and relapse prevention. 

The expanded services will be available in Wyoming, McDowell, and Mercer counties, providing comprehensive psychiatric evaluation and treatment of high risk adults and children, medication assisted treatment, therapy services, clinical supervision for specialized therapies, and continuing education and supervision. 

“West Virginians face a number of hurdles receiving mental health or addiction treatment,” Dr. Law said. “By embracing telepsychiatry as a modality for treatment, we help to improve access by removing the physical barrier of having to travel to receive treatment.”

The WVU Medicine telepsychiatry program with has provided telepsychiatry services in the state since 2009, with more than 39,000 direct patient care encounters.