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Newport News Behavioral Health Center provides quality mental health treatment for males and females, ages 11-18, in a safe and secure, therapeutic environment.

News and Events


Newport News Behavioral Health Center Participates in Local Job Fair

Job Fair December 1212/12/2018

Newport News Behavioral Health Center participated in a Job Fair December 12, held at Denbigh Community Center, located in Newport News. The staff spoke with interested candidates in various positions open at the facility, including staff positions for Mental Health Technicians, nurses, housekeeping, teachers, and drivers.

Aryka Brown, Testing Coordinator (Education Department) and Latrice Perry, Program Coordinator (Program Department) exhibited at the event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.



Suicide Prevention Seminar Hosted by Newport News Behavioral Health Center

Benjamin Newman9/28/2018

In support of the important annual event ‘National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Newport News Behavioral Health Center hosted attendees on September 28 from the Hampton Roads/Newport News area representing schools, police departments, fire departments, private therapists, and community service boards, who participated in an on-campus training entitled ‘Suicide Prevention: Incorporating Current Data, Research and Statistics into Professional Practice.’

Benjamin Newman, LPC, NCC, CSAC, MAC, CSOTP, ACS, and co-founder of Artisan Counseling, presented on the most recent statistics and research related to suicide; enhancement of the mental health professional’s ability to apply updated research within their clinical settings, and supporting the development of effective risk assessment strategies.



New Director of Admissions Joins Newport News Behavioral Health Center

Anthony Orozco9/10/2018

Newport News Behavioral Health Center announces the appointment of Anthony Orozco as its new Director of Admissions. Anthony received his master’s degree in Social Work, and is a licensed Qualified Mental Health Provider in the state of Virginia (QMHP-C). Anthony is a retired United States Air Force veteran of twenty years. His clinical experience includes Day Support with the Intellectually and Developmentally disabled; Trauma-Focused therapy; Domestic Violence Offender groups, and he served as a Day Treatment Specialist within the Newport News school system. Anthony combines his military management experience with his clinical skills to effectively manage the admissions department for both the Acute Inpatient and Residential Treatment facilities.



Newport News Behavioral Health Center Hosts Community Training Event ‘Enhancing Knowledge of the Sexually Aggressive Adolescent’

The facility hosted its annual training event on campus June 7, entitled ‘Enhancing Knowledge of the Sexually Aggressive Adolescent.’ Stacy Cross, MA, CSAC, CSOTP, Resident In Counseling, presented to 26 attendees primarily from local agencies. Ms. Cross has worked as a primary therapist for three years with Newport News BHC. As a certified sex offender treatment provider, she has worked within the Project Valor program, which serves males, ages 11 to 17, with sexually aggressive behaviors. The program has operated since July 2007.

Objectives for the training event included the following:

  • Identify the Characteristics of Sexually Aggressive Adolescents
  • Distinguish the Differences between Sexually Reactive and Sexually Aggressive Adolescents
  • Defining Best Treatment Modalities for the Sexually Aggressive Population.


Newport News Behavioral Health Center Announces the
Appointment of New Clinical Director

Sara Williams has joined the leadership team of Newport News Behavioral Health Center as its Clinical Director. Sara is a licensed clinical social worker, who formerly worked with First Home Care as its Mental Health Program Director, and previously as its program manager for the ID/DD Division, and Behavior Therapy Supervisor, between the years of 2012 and 2017. Sara joined Newport News Behavioral Health Center November 2017.

Sara received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work from Hawaii Pacific University. She proudly served in the United States Navy from 1998 to 2006.

Her responsibilities will include direct oversight and supervision of clinical services and clinical staff.



Newport News Behavioral Health Center Welcomes New Psychiatrist

Newport News Behavioral Health Center is pleased to announce the addition of John G. Phocas, III, M.D., as a full time attending psychiatrist with its Inpatient Acute Care facility. Dr. Phocas is Board Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He received his medical degree from George Washington University, Washington, D.C, while serving as a reserve officer in the US Navy.

Following graduation he entered active duty and completed his psychiatry training at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. After completing active duty service at several hospitals, Dr. Phocas spent his first several years as a civilian psychiatrist on the Eastern Shore in Cambridge and Easton, MD, providing treatment for adolescents, children, and adults, within outpatient, inpatient and residential settings.

During this time he served as the inpatient medical director and vice chairman of psychiatry for Shore Health Services, and worked as a psychiatrist for Dorchester County Public Schools’ Mental Health Services Program. Since 2003 Dr. Phocas has lived in the Tidewater area, where he has provided treatment to a diverse population at Atlantic Psychiatric Services, Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center, and The Pines at Kempsville.



Newport News Behavioral Health Center Announces Successful School Year for Students

The Academy at Lee Hall is proud to announce that during the calendar year 2016, 12 residents of our facility successfully completed a GED as part of a state approved school program.

Education is an integral part of the services provided to residents in treatment at Newport News Behavioral Health Center.

The Academy at Lee Hall is located on campus at Newport News Behavioral Health Center.



Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services (ARTS) Approved Provider for New State Initiative

Newport News Behavioral Health Center has long been a leading provider of substance abuse treatment for adolescents in its residential treatment facility. In response to the growing Opioid epidemic throughout the state the facility is pleased to announce its expansion of services effective April 2017 that will include the provision of treatment for those who experience a substance use disorder ‘only’, in addition to the existing program for those who require co-occurring treatment for psychiatric and substance use disorders.

The program will be overseen by the Medical Director, a Psychiatrist Board Certified in Addiction Medicine, and the Clinical Director, who is a LPC, CSAC, and Master Addiction Counselor (MAT). Treatment will be provided by Certified Substance Abuse Counselors.

More Information will be forthcoming on this program expansion.



Music Therapy: A Clinical and Evidence-based Treatment Option offered to Adolescents at Newport News Behavioral Health Center

Music Therapy is one of the many treatment modalities offered at Newport News Behavioral Health Center. It was established as an additional intervention and clinical service to increase self expression and quality of life for its residents. The program is group-therapy oriented and is offered to residents on two separate units (separate groups for males and females) every 6 weeks.  Each group lasts one hour and occurs 1x per week on campus. The music therapist facilitates each session and provides feedback on each resident’s progress to the treatment team.

Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship and setting by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. Live music (both receptive and participatory/collaborative) is used as a primary intervention to facilitate changes that are non-musical in nature. Music Therapy has been shown to be an effective form of treatment for physical, emotional, social, and cognitive needs and struggles of adolescents, as related to both mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment.  As music is such an important and prominent part of many adolescents’ lives, engaging in music as part of treatment is not only an effective approach, but enjoyable for teens as well.

Music Therapy sessions may involve any combination of creating, listening to, moving to, or singing music. Through referral and an interview/assessment process the music therapist designs music therapy sessions for individuals or groups based on their needs. Music improvisation, receptive music listening, songwriting, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance, and learning through music are all interventions that you may see in a music therapy session. It is not simply the listening or singing of music that makes it Music Therapy; rather, it’s the implementation, engagement, and connections that the certified Music Therapist helps teens to make that uses such musical acts in a therapeutic context.

Music Therapy research has shown that music reduces muscle tension, improved self-image/increased self-esteem, decreased anxiety/agitation, increased verbalization, enhanced interpersonal relationships, improved group cohesiveness, increased motivation and can provide a successful and safe emotional release. This effective treatment modality can be very useful in helping teens with a number of different therapeutic steps, including, but not limited to: noticing thought patterns, belief systems, and habits; recognizing emotions they were unaware of; making connections between behaviors and thoughts or feelings; recognizing feelings and thoughts related to their interaction with others; and improving confidence and self-worth.  Through song creation, re-creation, and analysis of preferred genres of music and songs, music serves as a communication function that expresses values, attitudes, and opinions about everyday life and situations.  By understanding each teen’s personal connection with music, the music therapist can gain an understanding of the teen’s self-understanding and use those connections to provide education and assistance in developing music interventions to help regulate mood, administer emotions, adjust energy levels, and help create healthy boundaries around themselves in various settings and situations.



Newport News Behavioral Health Center Department of Education Announces the addition of Cosmetology and Barbering Program

The Academy at Lee Hall announces the offering of its news Cosmetology and Barbering program, in cooperation with Perfect Styles Academy of Newport News and the Newport News Public Schools Office of Federal Programs. The program offers hours toward licensure in cosmetology for between 8 to 12 female residents and 6 to 24 male residents. Students who complete up to 500 hours of competencies will be eligible for transfer and employment under the supervision of a licensed cosmetologist or barber. This exciting program is in its infancy stage, and is being piloted during a Resource period. Residents who are in (ISAEP) Individual Student Alternative Education Plan Program and working toward a GED, or are between the ages of 16 to 18 are reviewed for this opportunity, provided they demonstrate on or above grade level skills in reading comprehension.



Local Human Rights Committee Membership

Newport News Regional Human Rights Committee is seeking members for appointment. The Newport News Regional LHRC is a committee of community volunteers that represent various professions – consumer and advocacy groups with an interest in mental health – mental retardation or substance abuse issues. All interested members of the community are encouraged to apply. Consumers of mental health, mental retardation and substance abuse services and family members are especially wanted. There is a need for those with a professional background.

To receive an application, please call Timothy Jones, human rights advocate, at 757-253-7061. A personal interview will be required for all applicants initially selected. The State Human Rights Committee makes final decisions on appointments.

Send all completed applications to Timothy Jones, NNRLHRC, c/o Office of Human Rights, Eastern State Hospital, 4601 Ironbound Road, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8791.



Newport News Behavioral Health Center announces the appointment of Jeremy Ross as its new Director of Residential Services

Newport News Behavioral Health Center announces the appointment of Jeremy Ross as its new Director of Residential Services.

Jeremy has worked in several positions over the past years at Newport News Behavioral Health Center. Most recently he served as the Director of Acute Care Services, and previously as a primary therapist.

He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC). Jeremy has led Compassion Fatigue training events for several state agencies.

Jeremy obtained his master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Regent University.

His responsibilities will include direct oversight of the mental health counselors/mental health technicians and unit managers.



Newport News Behavioral Health Center Holds Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for New Acute Care Center for Children and Adolescents


Left to right: Delegate T. Montgomery Mason, Senator John Miller, Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, Vice Mayor Robert Coleman, Joseph Crabtree, Paul Kirkham

Newport News Behavioral Health Center held its Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony March 9, 2015, to celebrate the addition of its newly constructed state-of-the-art inpatient psychiatric facility. The Psych Safe and secure facility serves males and females, ages 8-to-17, with mental health crises.

On hand to address more than 100 attendees were Lieutenant Governor Ralph S. Northam, who presented the keynote address; Senator John C. Miller, Delegate T. Montgomery Mason, Vice Mayor Robert S. Coleman, and Paul Kirkham, CEO, Newport News Behavioral Health Center.

The acute care center will be open 24-hours-per-day, 7 days-per-week, staffed by master’s level clinicians, registered nurses, mental health technicians, and board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists. The facility is adjacent to the existing residential treatment facility.

The acute care center, which opened March 12, 2015, is licensed and accredited.



Equine Therapy

photo-225x300Equine therapy (also known as Horse Therapy or Equine-Assisted Therapy), is now offered year round at Newport News Behavioral Health Center. Originating with the girls trauma unit residents in January 2014, the PATH-Accredited program model meets the highest certification level offered for this treatment modality.

The goal of introducing equine therapy (an experiential therapy that involves interactions between the residents and horses) is to aid adolescents’ in the development of needed skills and attributes, including self confidence, problem-solving skills, communication, trust, social skills, impulse control, flexibility and responsibility. Youth participating in the treatment sessions are involved in grooming, feeding, haltering, and leading a horse.

This treatment is supervised by an equine therapist, with the support of a horse professional. The therapist observes and interacts with the youth to identify behavior patterns, while processing thoughts and emotions.

A range of emotional and behavioral issues can be addressed effectively with this approach. Newport News BHC staff provides a safe and secure environment in cooperation with the equine therapist and horse professional.



Employees of the Month

November 2018 Employee of the Month

Chontonique CulpNewport News Behavioral Health Center is pleased to announce that Chontonique Culp was selected as Employee of the Month for November 2018. Chontonique was recently promoted from Mental Health Technician to Lead Mental Health Technician. She has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills, and is fair, firm, and consistent with the residents. She demonstrates dependability and flexibility with her schedule; volunteering to work additional days to ensure that all standards are met on the female units.



October 2018 Employee of the Month

Damian TuckerNewport News Behavioral Health Center is pleased to announce that Damian Tucker was selected as Employee of the Month for October 2018. Damian joined NNBHC in 2018, and works as a Therapist. He attended Clarion University and St. Leo University receiving his B.S. in Psychology in 2004. In 2013 he received his Master of Science degree from Capella University as a Counselor. Damian also served in the United States Air Force where he was a Physical Trainer Leader. In 2003 he received the US Air Force Services Squadron Airman of the Year.



September 2018 Employee of the Month

Everis WilliamsNewport News Behavioral Health Center is pleased to announce that Everis Williams was selected as Employee of the Month for September 2018. Everis, a Mental Health Technician, works to build positive rapport with every resident that she works with. She is always willing to problem solve and work as a team with the therapists to help the residents achieve their goals. If she feels something isn’t right with a case, Everis has no problem directing her concerns and working to identify a solution.



August 2018 Employee of the Month

Shaunte OliverNewport News Behavioral Health Center is pleased to announce that Shaunte Oliver was selected as Employee of the Month for August 2018. Shaunte serves as the Payroll/Accounts Payable Coordinator. Her customer service skills are exemplary in working with co-workers, outside agencies, and presenting at New Hire Orientations, while outlining company policies and procedures. Shaunte is a true asset and always ready to lend a helping hand.



July 2018 Employee of the Month

Karissa MitchellNewport News Behavioral Health Center is pleased to announce that Karissa Mitchell was selected as Employee of the Month for July 2018.

Karissa began her employment in May 2017, and works as a health information clerk; an important role in maintaining HIPAA regulations, and securely managing confidential medical records on youth admitted to the residential and acute inpatient facilities.

Karissa has a Medical Assistant degree from Centura College.



June 2018 Employee of the Month

Abigail WilliamsNewport News Behavioral Health Center is pleased to announce that Abigail Williams, LPC, was selected as Employee of the Month for June 2018. Abigail has worked at NNBHC since 2017. She earned her Master of Science Degree in Art Therapy and Counseling from EVMS. She has previously worked in various capacities with youth requiring mental health services, including National Counseling Group, Commonwealth Challenge, and SECEP. Abby is always on time with documentation and proactive, while enhancing the youth’s success rate upon discharge.



May 2018 Employee of the Month

Angeleah SwillingNewport News Behavioral Health Center is pleased to announce that Angeleah Swilling was selected as Employee of the Month for May 2018. When a co-worker unexpectedly fell ill mid-shift, Angeleah confidently and competently ran the kitchen operations. The next day she volunteered to work an extended shift to ensure meals were prepared and served on time. Her dedication to putting youth first guaranteed nourishment for 117 residents and their supporting staff.



April 2018 Employee of the Month

Brea BrathwaiteNewport News Behavioral Health Center is pleased to announce that Brea Brathwaite was selected as the Employee of the Month for April 2018.

A graduate of Hampton University with a B .S. in Criminal Justice/Criminology and a M.S. from Argosy University in Forensic Psychology, Ms. Brathwaite has served as a Mental Health Technician since September 2015.

Ms. Brathwaite was promoted to clinical intake coordinator effective May 28.



Action Alliance Partnership

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance), a public-private partnership, has partnered with Newport News Behavioral Health Center, to strengthen the country’s clinical capacity to provide innovative suicide prevention and care.

The partnership significantly advances one of the central priorities of the Action Alliance – to transform health systems and reduce suicides—and marks Newport News Behavioral Health Center’s commitment to be at the leading edge of the transformation.

To learn more, please visit the Action Alliance website.



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