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Liberty professor to participate in $800,000 grant to offer mental health services in rural Central Virginia

Dr. Fred Volk

Representing Liberty University as a clinical mental health professional, School of Behavioral Sciences professor Dr. Fred Volk has been announced as the co-principal investigator and project evaluator on a four-year grant recently awarded to Horizon Behavioral Health to serve clients with mental health and substance issues in Virginia’s Amherst and Bedford counties. The $800,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will allow Horizon to serve 150 adults, 18 and older, who struggle getting treatment due to lack of providers and available services.

“I am thankful for the opportunity and excited to work with Horizon Behavioral Health in helping address the mental health needs of our community,” said Volk, a professor of counseling. Volk has worked at Liberty since 2006 and holds a master’s in Community/Clinical Psychology and Ph.D. in Human Factors Psychology from Wichita State University.

Horizon Project Director Jennifer Smith Ramey said Volk was asked to serve as the evaluator due to his wealth of knowledge and research in the field.

“Improving health in our communities by collaborating with local universities and existing community partners bridges the link between research and science and the delivery of empirically supported prevention and treatment to those in our community most in need,” she said. “We asked Dr. Volk if he’d be interested in serving as our external evaluator because we knew through his work and research that he is fantastic, he knows the research and the evaluation process.”

Volk will provide his feedback throughout the four years of the grant-funded outreach and treatment services, which begin next month.

Horizon CEO Damien Cabezas said, “We are thankful to our valued community and academic partners, and the Horizon team for developing a proposal that addresses population health needs using innovative, evidence-based, and collaborative approaches.”

Dr. Kenyon Knapp, dean of Liberty’s School of Behavioral Sciences, said that the university’s  participation is a prime example of its prowess in research and academics.

“We are grateful that Dr. Volk has been able to partner with a great community agency like Horizon Behavioral Health in addressing the mental health challenges of people in Bedford and Amherst Counties,” he said. “We are so proud of Dr. Volk for the way his scholarship and research skills have been recognized and utilized.  Dr. Volk has a long history of academic excellence here at Liberty University, and we are grateful for his many contributions.”

For over 50 years, Horizon has focused its efforts on developing and implementing evidence-based services that help increase years of life and reduce disparities in health outcomes among adults with serious mental illness and substance use. Their model, known as Illness Management and Recovery (IMR), teaches illness self-management to persons with serious mental illness, especially the underserved population. Expected outcomes for IMR include an increase in social connection, use of coping skills, and social functioning and participation in their communities; addressing warning signs quickly; reduced number of psychiatric hospitalizations; and greater insight regarding symptom identification and medication management.

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