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    VTCC media resources

    One in five children will experience a serious mental health issue, but 75 percent of them will not receive the care they need. Our new Virginia Treatment Center for Children is an acknowledgement that national issues surrounding children's mental health need to be addressed and we want to be a part of the conversation.

    Our mental health experts are available for in-person, phone or skype interviews about the new facility and trending mental health topics.

    Media relations team

    Contact us to schedule an interview with one of our mental health experts.

    Media health expert bios

    Cheryl Al-Mateen Cheryl Al-Mateen, M.D., medical director, Virginia Treatment Center for Children, professor of psychiatry, and associate professor of pediatrics, VCU Department of Psychiatry
    Dr. Cheryl Al-Mateen completed her MD at Howard University College of Medicine, and her psychiatry residency and child psychiatry fellowship at Hahnemann University in Philadelphia. Dr. Al-Mateen is a Fellow of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. She is Board Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in General Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Forensic Psychiatry. She has worked in inpatient, outpatient and group home settings throughout Central Virginia. She previously served as Chair of the Education Committee for the VCU Center on Health Disparities. She is active in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and serves as Co-Chair of its Diversity and Culture Committee. She has presented work on topics including culture and the effects of violence and trauma regionally, nationally and internationally. She also has been an advisor to local media on topics such as the Washington, D.C. sniper and responding to stressors like 9/11.
    Bela Sood Bela Sood, M.D., senior professor for child and mental health policy, VCU Department of Psychiatry

    Dr. Bela Sood completed her MD in India, residency at University of Missouri in Kansas City and child psychiatry fellowship at Ohio State University, she joined VCU in 1988. She is a 2002 Fellow of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) through Drexel University, and completed a Master's of Science in Health Administration in May 2006 from the Health Administration Program at VCU. She has served on the SOM admissions committee, faculty awards committee, COSOWAM, special faculty awards committee, presidential task force on campus safety and Psychiatry P&T committee. Her special interests are in the training of an adequate work force in child mental health, reduction of stigma around mental health issues, outcomes research, mood disorders and ADHD. She is specifically focused on ways of providing optimal mental health care to the children of Virginia, focusing on innovation of technology, such as telemedicine to bring such care to rural areas of the state. Additionally, she was appointed by Governor Tim Kaine as the mental health expert to the blue-ribbon panel that investigated the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007.
    Neil Sonenklar Neil Sonenklar, interim division chair for child and adolescent psychiatry, VCU Department of Psychiatry
    Dr. Neil Sonenklar received his medical degree from University of Michigan Medical School and has been in practice for more than 20 years. As a psychiatrist, he does research in health psychology, abnormal psychology and clinical psychology. His most recent publication is titled The Moderating Role of Peer Problems on the Relationship Between Substance Use and Mental Health.
    Susan Jones Susan Jones, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, VCU Department of Psychiatry
    Dr. Susan Jones attended medical school at the VCU School of Medicine, and completed a residency in psychiatry at the University of Alabama Hospitals. She returned to Richmond to complete a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry at the Virginia Treatment Center for Children. Since joining the faculty, she has formed three specialty clinics caring for gender nonconforming children, children with eating disorders and children in foster care. She was awarded a $3,000 grant from the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals Auxiliary and with this she purchased books for a lending library for gender non-conforming children and their parents. Dr. Jones co-leads a monthly support group for pre-pubertal gender non-conforming children and their parents, and she lectures to trainees and the community on the topics of gender dysphoria, eating disorders and childhood trauma.
    Jennifer Hinesley Jennifer Hinesley, assistant professor, VCU Department of Psychiatry
    Dr. Jennifer Hinesley's clinical expertise is in the phenotypic presentation of children and families impacted by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Her work focuses on psychiatric and behavioral symptomatology related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), child maltreatment, depression, and substance use disorders. She is particularly interested in how these psychiatric conditions affect attachment, child-parent interactions, and parenting. Most recently, she has been conducting collaborative research pertaining to parental adversity variables with pregnant women, and is focused on the identification of neurodevelopmental markers of insensitive patterns of parenting behavior and family conflict in relation to brain and emotional-behavioral outcomes, and conferred risk toward psychopathology and addiction in the unique Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study.
    Ross Yaple Ross Yaple, fellowship training director, VCU Department of Psychiatry
    Dr. Ross Yaple received his medical degree from University at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He has been a practicing psychiatrist for 11 years.
    Julie Linker Julie Linker, assistant professor, VCU Department of Psychiatry
    Dr. Julie Linker received her doctorate degree and completed her residency at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Clinical Child Psychology at the Virginia Treatment Center for Children. She was appointed to her current position as chief psychologist of VTCC in 2010. She is the psychology training director for VTCC and associate director of the Commonwealth Institute for Child and Family Studies. As a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor, she's completed research on adolescent substance use, adolescent suicidal behaviors and trauma. Her most recent publication is titled Proximal Influences on the Trajectory of Suicidal Behaviors and Suicide during the Transition from Adolescence to Young Adulthood.
    Sandy Lewis Alexandria "Sandy" W. Lewis, MPA, Ed.D., executive director, Virginia Treatment Center for Children
    Dr. Alexandria Lewis was appointed to her present position as executive director of the Virginia Treatment Center for Children (VTCC), the Child and Adolescent Division of the VCU (VCU) Department of Psychiatry in November 2012. She is an assistant professor in the VCU Department of Psychiatry and an executive leader within the VCU Health System. She relocated from Illinois where she spent her career in community mental health, serving urban and rural communities and leading organizations from community youth services, to adult psychiatric rehabilitation and comprehensive county-wide mental health agencies, including hospital based systems. She is responsible for the VTCC inpatient and outpatient psychiatric programs under the VCU Health System; coordination of the Child and Family Institute for Research; and the Children's Mental Health Resource Center.
    Peter Buckley Peter Buckley, M.D., executive vice president for medical affairs, VCU Health System
    A psychiatrist and expert in schizophrenia, Dr. Peter Buckley serves as the dean of VCU School of Medicine. He serves as a member of the Administrative Board of the Council of Deans (COD) of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and chairs the COD Fellowship Program. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and served on the association's Workgroup on the Role of Psychiatry in Healthcare Reform. Additionally, he is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and served as Chair of the PanAmerican Division. Dr. Buckley is a past President of the American Association of Chairs of Departments of Psychiatry. He has published 500 original articles, book chapters, and abstracts. He is senior author of a postgraduate textbook of psychiatry. He has authored or edited 16 books on schizophrenia and related topics. He is the editor of the journal Clinical Schizophrenia & Related Psychoses and was the inaugural editor of the Journal of Dual Diagnosis. He is also associate editor of the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, a member of the Editorial Boards of ten other psychiatric journals, and has served as a reviewer for over 60 journals.
    Joel Silverman Joel Silverman, James Asa Shield, Jr., M.D. Professor, and chair, VCU Department of Psychiatry
    Dr. Joel J. Silverman is the James A. Shield Jr., M.D. Professor of Psychiatry and chair of the Department of Psychiatry. He has chaired this department since 1984. He received his B.A. degree from Washington University and his M.D. degree from University of Kansas Medical School. He completed a straight medicine internship in Chicago and psychiatric residency training at University of Kansas School of Medicine, and was a Senior Resident and Fellow at Medical College of Virginia. He previously served as the President of the American Association of Chairs of Departments of Psychiatry, and Chair of the Residency Review Committee in Psychiatry of the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education. Additionally, he served on the Board of Regents of the American College of Psychiatrists, and was Chairman of the American Psychiatric Association's Work Group on the Psychiatric Evaluation of Adults.

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