The previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Medicare patients were included in the program. We have updated the story to accurately reflect the details. We apologize for this error.

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, 94% of Virginia’s cities and counties have a shortage of mental health professionals.

That’s one reason the Virginia Telemental Health Initiative (VTMHI) launched to provide free virtual counseling. Roanoke’s Bradley Free Clinic began offering the sessions Wednesday morning and had three patients already sit through VTMHI sessions.

Christine Wright, behavioral health program manager, says when Bradley’s mental health services opened three years ago, they saw 40 patients a year. They now see over 450 patients a year.

“It comes down to the capacity. It’s not that we don’t have great agencies and organizations already doing really amazing work, it’s that were all busting at the seams and the need is so much greater need than any of us can meet,” she said.

Through the initiative, uninsured patients can speak with a volunteer mental healthcare resident and their supervisor over a video call from the comfort of their home or using the facilities at Bradley.

“It’s not only meeting the needs of our community who are searching for these resources, but it’s bettering the future by supporting these residents that are pursuing their licensing to where we’ll have even more availability throughout the community,” said Wright.

Roanoke patients can sign up for free mental health services through the Bradley Free Clinic. For more information about free services near you, visit the VTMHI site.