Voices’ Blog


Posted:  -  By: Ashley Airington


Bon Air Presbyterian Church March Mission Month Topic

A broad examination of mental health in Virginia is the focus for Mission Month at Bon Air Presbyterian Church. “Mental Health. . . Do We Have to Have a Crisis? will be explored the five Sundays of March at the Sunday school hour, 9:45-10:45 a.m.

The series will begin March 2 with James W. Stewart III. Until January, when he retired, he was commissioner of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. (DBHDS) Stewart will provide background and explanation of public mental health services. In 40 years experience in behavioral health and developmental services, he has worked at local, state and federal levels to shape policies, regulations and funding initiatives.

Mental Illness and Criminal Justice—Is It a Crime to Be Mentally Ill?” will be the topic March 9 of Dr. Michael Schaefer, director of the Office of Forensic Services at DBHDS. A forensic psychologist, Dr. Schaefer will speak about mental health issues related to the forensic population and jail services. He has been actively involved in developing innovative treatment approaches for those adjudicated “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.” He was a forensic psychologist in the federal Bureau of Prisons.

Margaret Nimmo Crowe, executive director of Voices for Virginia’s Children, on March 16 will speak on “Mental Illness Isn’t Just An Adult Problem.” Since 1994 Voices has been giving children and families a voice at the state capitol, working for laws that improve early childhood education, mental health care and foster care. She led the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health, a broad-based advocacy initiative that is increasing access to children’s mental health services in the Commonwealth.

“Crisis Care in Virginia: Challenges and Promising Developments” will be Larry Barnett’s topic on March 23. He manages the Adult Mental Health Program and Emergency Services for Chesterfield County’s Mental Health Support Services of the Community Services Board. Barnett is the mental health Crisis Intervention Coordinator focused on training and developing a coordinated response among mental health, law enforcement and first responders during emergency situations. A licensed professional counselor he has been with the Chesterfield department since 1985.

 The series will conclude March 30 with Peggy Sinclair-Morris and her daughter, Rheanna, who advocate together to change the stigma of mental illness. “When Families Deal With Mental Health Challenges—Coming Out” will cover Rheanna’s diagnosis at 16 of Bipolar Type 1 Rapid Cycling as well as her mother’s journey with her through the mental health system.

 Peggy Sinclair-Morris is coordinator for the Virginia Project for Children and Young Adults with Deaf-Blindness at Virginia Commonwealth University. Rheanna, 18, is studying social work at John Tyler Community College.

Mission Month is an annual program of the Church and Society Division of Bon Air Presbyterian Church, 9201 Huguenot Road. Previously, immigration, environment, housing and substance abuse have been Mission Month topics.

The classes are open to the public. For more information call Nancy Finch, 272-6188.

Read More Blog Posts