Social Work Awareness Month: VMAP’s Social Workers are Breaking Barriers to Mental Health Access
March is Social Work Awareness Month. This year, the National Association of Social Workers is celebrating with the theme Social Work Breaks Barriers, which seeks to highlight how social work and social workers break barriers that prevent people and communities from thriving. They accomplish this by working on an individual level to help people and families overcome significant barriers like limited access to healthcare, affordable housing, and food insecurity. Social workers support communities in a broad range of areas including criminal justice social work, medical social work, child and family social work, and more. Social workers play a significant role in the Virginia Mental Health Access Program (VMAP) and are helping families in Virginia thrive by breaking a major barrier: access to mental health care.
Social Workers Improve Access to Mental Health Care
VMAP is made up of a diverse professional team – each person bringing their expertise to the program to help increase access to mental health care in Virginia by helping primary care providers (PCPs) better support their patients. This is done through a variety of ways, including pediatric mental health training for PCPs and through the VMAP Line.
PCPs treating patients 21 and under in the state of Virginia can call the VMAP Line for free pediatric behavioral health consultation with child psychiatrists and other licensed mental health professionals (LMHPs). They can also call to access care navigation services.
The primary care office is often a child’s only point of contact with the healthcare system. The availability of mental health care providers does not meet the demand for the mental health crisis facing children across the country, especially in Virginia. According to the 2023 State of Mental Health in America Report, Virginia ranks 48th lowest in the country when considering prevalence of mental illness in our youth compared to access of care. In their role as VMAP LMHPs, social workers break the barriers in mental health access by empowering PCPs to support their patients’ mental health needs within the primary care office.
Four of VMAP’s LMHPs are licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs). The individuals in this role are PCPs’ first point of contact when they call the VMAP Line. LCSWs screen the calls, conduct a brief intake, offer mental health consultation, and direct the provider to the any additional needed services such as a consultation with a VMAP child psychiatrist, or care navigation to help find needed referrals.
In honor of Social Work Awareness Month, we would like to extend a huge THANK YOU to VMAP’s social workers, and social workers around the world, for the work they do to improve their communities every single day.
Meet VMAP’s Licensed Clinical Social Workers
Julia Richardson, LCSW | VMAP Northern Region LMHP, VMAP Lead LMHP
Julia Richardson, LCSW works as VMAP’s Lead LMHP, based at the Inova Kellar Center. She received a Master of Social Work degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and has post-graduate therapy training and experience that led her to specialize in assessment and diagnosis of behavioral health problems for children and adolescents, and with psychiatric crisis intervention for all ages. She is passionate about getting young people quickly to the most effective treatment, ideally in their first encounter with behavioral health.
As VMAP’s Lead LMHP, Julia works with Northern Region PCPs to provide behavioral health consultations, mental health education, and supports the Care Navigators in linking families to resources. She is the leader on the LMHP statewide team and provides supervision, training, and administrative support to the VMAP team. She also provides training on the VMAP ECHO training as faculty and presents to PCPs on VMAP services and mental health topics. Outside of work, Julia enjoys exploring outside with her children, often only going as far as the backyard mud patch.
Tammy Taylor-Musoke, LCSW | VMAP Central Region LMHP
Tammy Taylor-Musoke, LCSW is VMAP’s central region LMHP, based out of VCU Health. She earned her master’s in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University. Tammy has worked with children and adults with mental illness and/or intellectual disabilities for over 20 years.
As VMAP’s central region LMHP, Tammy works with PCPs to provide behavioral health consultations, mental health education, and support in connecting families to resources. She also facilitates VMAP Lunch & Learns, where she helps educate providers about VMAP’s services and specific mental health topics. When not working, Tammy enjoys spending time with her family and talking with friends. She also enjoys being outdoors, attending Flying Squirrels baseball games, and watching football.
Angela Prater, LCSW | VMAP Southwest Region LMHP
Angie Prater, LCSW is VMAP’s Southwest LMHP, based out of Mount Rogers Community Services. In her previous role at Mount Rogers, she provided services in both office and school settings to children, adolescents, and families across southwestern Virginia communities. Angie obtained her MSW from Radford University in 2012 and completed her undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in both psychology and sociology. She has been providing clinical services to individuals and families for the last 14 years to include emotional and behavioral disturbances and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Angie provides person-centered services that focus on building a positive, trusting relationship with individuals and families. She utilizes strengths-based and empowerment techniques at the heart of her practice as she believes in assisting individuals with recognizing and discovering their own strengths and achievements to empower themselves to attain their personal successes. Angie has a national certification in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, as well as a certification in Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). As a VMAP LMHP, Angie will provide behavioral health consults to PCPs, facilitate lunch and learns, support with care navigation, and answer any other questions you may have about the program!
To learn more about how these social workers support Virginia PCPs seeing children and adolescents, or about VMAP, visit www.VMAP.org.
By Ally Singer Wright
VMAP Program Director