Tag Archive: NAMI Virginia

  1. Youth Mental Health Crisis

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    Written by Voices’ intern Abby Aquije

    Increasing mental health resources and access to behavioral health services is a necessary step to mend our youth mental health crisis. If we are truly committed to ending this crisis, we must also consider what factors lead to the situation getting this bad. What is different about our youth today? What has gotten us to this crisis point?

    Youth are feeling alone and disconnected

    Our youth are facing an unprecedented number of stressors that can explain rising rates of depression and anxiety among children and adolescents. Gen Z youth are experiencing stress from sources ranging from school demands to family issues, and even “eco anxiety.” Though these statistics tell us that most youth are struggling with similar hardships, those that work closest to them assure us that this is not how they see it. Recent conversations with Virginia youth directors have made it clear that a key element in this crisis is that youth are feeling alone and disconnected from those around them.

    Most of us have been there, feeling as if we are the only ones stressing about school, social image, or family issues, when in reality the majority of us go through similar issues. As a society, we are becoming more open about mental health issues, yet, there is more to be done. If youth do not feel comfortable talking about their struggles, they will continue to feel alone. Think of a student falling behind in a class. On top of feeling the academic stress, they may also feel shame, which could lead to feelings of isolation and then more serious mental health issues. Even in the Netherlands – whose COVID-19 response included short lockdowns, equitable funding, and high rates of broadband access – student test results revealed a learning loss. How can a student blame themselves for something that is happening globally, even in “best case” scenarios? Why is it that they feel shame rather than solidarity?

    The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the already concerning rates of loneliness

    Loneliness is being described as an epidemic, with over 60% of young adults feeling it. They are unable to connect with those around them and have to tackle their challenges alone. This all makes the perfect recipe for deteriorating physical and mental health issues that must be addressed.

    High rates of youth loneliness can easily be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic: the nationwide lockdowns, social distancing, and virtual schooling all caused disconnection. Efforts to boost human connection were admirable, but the damage is done. No amount of virtual connection can make up for the formative middle school years, high school celebrations, and other important in-person experiences youth missed. While it is easy to point fingers at the pandemic, we cannot forget that these rates were rising prior to it. Social media and changing family structures also play a role in limiting the connections youth build with one another.

    Program Response: Employ connectedness strategies

    As we move forward, we have to be more intentional about forming and maintaining connections. Those that work with youth should prioritize creating spaces for youth to meet and truly connect with one another. Youth thrive when they feel they belong, they need to know that people hear and care about them.

    Most parents and caregivers know the importance of forming secure attachment in early childhood and actively work toward developing it. Attachment building paves the way for healthy and independent children, however, as they grow up there is less of an emphasis on developing and maintaining these sorts of connections. It is important for kids to learn independence, but no one can survive on their own, not physically or mentally. It is no surprise that youth connectedness is a protective factor for negative mental health outcomes and that the CDC supports the implementation of connectedness strategies, policies, and activities. As we move forward, we must value building youth connections just as much as we do infant attachment building.

    Policymakers should push for Peer Support Services before crises arise

    Peer support is an evidence-based practice used to help individuals cope with mental health challenges and improve quality of life. In addition to being cost-saving, it has been shown to be more effective than usual care for treating depression, and is especially engaging for “difficult to reach” individuals. Virginia already has qualified peer support providers that use their lived experience with mental health and substance use disorders to help others with their recovery. These providers are important for recovery once mental health challenges arise; however, their experience can also be beneficial for preventative measures before the issues arise. Programs like Hoos Connected, at the University of Virginia, use a form of peer support by having upperclassmen facilitators bring students together to develop meaningful connections with one another.  Students that participate in these programs report feeling significantly less depressed and as a former facilitator, I can attest to the difference the 9-week program makes. Despite its limitations – mainly the challenge of enrolling youth into a “feelings” class – there is a lot of promise to programs like these.

    Combating the loneliness epidemic will take time as it requires youth buy-in and societal shifting. Working alongside young people as we continue to research and develop solutions will be essential as we move forward in an effort to improve the overall mental health of our youth.

  2. General Assembly 2022: Mental Health Wrap-Up

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    The momentum was in place for children’s mental health in Virginia. The US Surgeon General and key advocates declared a national emergency to confront a decade-long decline in children’s mental health. Despite widespread concern, Governor Northam’s original budget proposal did not fund new programs in schools for children’s mental health. To meet the moment, a bipartisan group of legislators and advocates from various communities lobbied for investments in psychological services and counseling. Additional resources of $1.4 million per year will expand the Virginia Mental Health Access Program to integrate services in health care settings. Noted below are other new investments integrating mental health in school settings, increasing reimbursement rates, and supporting the workforce.

    A First Step for School-Based Mental Health Integration 

    Over the last three years, the General Assembly has focused on improving school-based mental health by funding specialized student support positions—counselors, social workers, and psychologists. While students have benefited from better relationships with faculty, COVID presented unanticipated disruptions, rapidly increasing needs, and barriers to vital care. School divisions have responded by allocating federal recovery funds into training, coaching, and even bringing community-based mental health professionals into schools.

    However, federal support during this emergency is impermanent and mental health threats are ongoing. School divisions need resources to continue to support these efforts. Voices led advocacy for additional state general fund resources supporting school-based mental health in flexible ways to assist school divisions in identifying key partnerships and resources. The General Assembly allocated $2.5 million in FY23 to begin supporting school-based mental health services and included language asking the newly established Behavioral Health Commission to study how schools can better integrate mental health services with sustainable funding streams such as Medicaid.

    The General Assembly also approved funding to establish a regional Recovery High School based in Chesterfield where substance abuse recovery is incorporated into the school day. The proposal by Delegate Carrie Coyner was finally approved after the 2020 COVID response cut funding. Other high schools will be able to look toward this model to support health needs in the classroom.

    Senator Jennifer McClellan has been a significant leader on school based mental health and increasing resources for school-based professionals. Read more in her Op/Ed in the Fredericksburg FreeLance Star.

    Addressing Workforce Shortages

    The lynchpin to support the social and emotional well-being of students is having an appropriate workforce. We are excited about two changes that will help address pressing workforce challenges.

    The House and Senate approved HB829, proposed by Del. Tony Wilt, that will provide flexibility on a provisional basis for licensed mental health professionals without certification to work in school-settings. This flexibility will ensure that school divisions can hire more mental health staff.

    The budget adopted by the General Assembly includes funding for a new initiative to help mental health professionals seeking licensure when they must pay for their supervision time out-of-pocket. The new initiative, Boost200, will provide resources to cover out-of-pocket expenses for licensure and match them with approved supervisors. This initiative is poised to make a significant impact on removing barriers towards licensure and diversifying the mental health field. Learn more about participating to address licensure costs or to work as a supervisor.

    Improving Medicaid Reimbursement Rates

    The third area that the legislature improved on mental health services was improving Medicaid reimbursement rates for several mental health services. Federal funds from the current “public health emergency” have increased payment rates for community-based services by 12.5%. The General Assembly approved resources to continue financing those services. The General Assembly also improved rates for psychiatric residential treatment facilities. Many facilities served children from other states and lacked placements for children in Virginia, leading to greater instability for the hardest to place children, who are the focus of the Safe and Sound Task Force. The increased rates should help caregivers meet immediate needs, but challenges remain to ensure that children are not placed in inappropriate and lengthy stays in congregate settings. While increasing Medicaid rates is a positive step, adequate reimbursement is essential to looking after the mental health of economically disadvantaged children and vulnerable children in the foster care system.

  3. Mental Health Advocacy Day at the General Assembly: January 20th, 2014

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    Join us in Richmond at the General Assembly for Mental Health Advocacy Day on Monday, January 20th, 2014

     

    Join NAMI Virginia, Voices for Virginia’s Children, the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health and the Coalition for Virginians with Mental Disabilities as we advocate for mental health at the Virginia General Assembly.  Your participation can really make a difference! We will provide talking points and advocacy tips– we just need you to come to Richmond and be willing to talk with your legislators. Not sure who they are? You can look them up online: click on “Who’s My Legislator?” at the top of the page.

    WHEN? WHERE?

    Monday, January 20, 2014 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We will be meeting at the General Assembly Building (1000 Bank Street Richmond, Virginia), at the 5th Floor West Conference Room. Please arrive between 9:00 and 9:30 am.

    WHAT?

    • Legislative breakfast (legislators invited to attend and speak)

    • Training on the basics of talking to your legislators effectively including one pagers and talking points

    • Lobby your legislators (no experience necessary)

    • Meet other mental health advocates, be visible for mental health, and put a face on the issues we all care about

    REGISTRATION?

    Register today! http://tinyurl.com/advocacyday2014

    QUESTIONS? MORE INFO?

    Nicky Zamostny- NAMI Virginia, Mswintern.namiva@gmail.com 804-285-8264 ext. 209

    Ashley Everette – Voices for Virginia’s Children: Ashley@vakids.org 804-649-0184 ext. 26

    Check out our flyer:  Advocacy Day Flyer 2014

  4. Virginia Family Network is Hiring!

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    Calling parent leaders!  Our friends at the Virginia Family Network, a program of NAMI Virginia, are currently hiring a part-time Virginia Family Network Program Assistant. The deadline to apply is September 20, 2013.

    To learn more about this position and how to apply, visit their websitewww.namivirginia.org/programs/virginia-family-network. 

     

  5. Gubernatorial Candidate Forum on Mental Health

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    Voices for Virginia’s Children and the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health are pleased to be partnering with NAMI Virginia and many other organizations to sponsor a forum on mental health topics for the two men seeking to become Virginia’s next Governor. Please join us on August 5th in Richmond to hear what they have to say!

    Candidate Forum on Mental Health
    The coalition of mental health organizations is sponsoring a candidate forum on mental health. This forum is an opportunity for citizens to hear from Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates, Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe, on their ideas and policy platforms for mental health issues.

    When and Where
    Monday, August 5th
    6:30 – 8:30 pm
    Oates Theater, Collegiate School (Richmond, Virginia)

    Flyer
    Click here for a flyer with detailed information including the address and event sponsors.

    Map and Directions
    Click here for a detailed campus map. Look for Building “A” on the map.
    Click here for directions to the Main Campus of Collegiate School.

    Parking
    Click here for parking information. Look for the area on the map marked “Event Location” and the areas on the map in yellow marked “Parking”. Please allow ample time to locate a parking spot and arrive at the forum on time.

    Registration
    Click here to register!Registration is encouraged but not required.

    Questions?
    Contact Mary Beth Walsh mwalsh@namivirginia.org (804) 285-8264 x 204

    Sponsoring Organizations

    American Academy of Pediatrics – Virginia Chapter
    American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry – Virginia Chapter
    Brain Injury Association of America
    Campaign for Children’s Mental Health
    CHIP of Virginia & Parents as Teachers State Office
    Collegiate School
    DisAbility Law Center of Virginia
    FACES of Virginia Families
    Legislative Coalition of Virginia Nurses
    Mental Health America of Virginia
    National Alliance on Mental Illness of Virginia
    National Association of Social Workers – Virginia Chapter
    Psychiatric Society of Virginia
    Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance
    Virginia Association of Community Services Boards
    Virginia Association of Infant Mental Health
    Virginia Association of School Nurses
    Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness
    Virginia College of Emergency Physicians
    Virginia Counselors Association
    Virginia Network of Private Providers
    Virginia Organization of Consumers Asserting Leadership
    Voices for Virginia’s Children
    Virginia Sheriff’s Institute
    Virginia Association of Area Associations on Aging
    Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police
    Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators
    Virginia Coalition of Private Provider Associations

     

  6. Candidate Forum on Mental Health Featuring Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe

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    The Campaign for Children’s Mental Health and Voices for Virginia’s Children are pleased to be partnering with NAMI Virginia and many other organizations to sponsor a forum on mental health topics for the two men seeking to become Virginia’s next Governor. Please join us on August 5th in Richmond to hear what they have to say!

    Candidate Forum on Mental Health
    The coalition of mental health organizations is sponsoring a candidate forum on mental health. This forum is an opportunity for citizens to hear from Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates, Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe, on their ideas and policy platforms for mental health issues.

    When and Where
    Monday, August 5th
    6:30 – 8:30 pm
    Oates Theater, Collegiate School (Richmond, Virginia)

    Flyer
    Click here for a flyer with detailed information including the address and event sponsors.

    Map and Directions
    Click here for a detailed campus map. Look for Building “A” on the map.
    Click here for directions to the Main Campus of Collegiate School.

    Parking
    Click here for parking information. Look for the area on the map marked “Event Location” and the areas on the map in yellow marked “Parking”. Please allow ample time to locate a parking spot and arrive at the forum on time.

    Registration
    Click here to register!Registration is encouraged but not required.

    Questions?
    Contact Mary Beth Walsh mwalsh@namivirginia.org (804) 285-8264 x 204

    Sponsoring Organizations

    American Academy of Pediatrics – Virginia Chapter
    American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry – Virginia Chapter
    Brain Injury Association of America
    Campaign for Children’s Mental Health
    CHIP of Virginia & Parents as Teachers State Office
    Collegiate School
    DisAbility Law Center of Virginia
    FACES of Virginia Families
    Legislative Coalition of Virginia Nurses
    Mental Health America of Virginia
    National Alliance on Mental Illness of Virginia
    National Association of Social Workers – Virginia Chapter
    Psychiatric Society of Virginia
    Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance
    Virginia Association of Community Services Boards
    Virginia Association of Infant Mental Health
    Virginia Association of School Nurses
    Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness
    Virginia College of Emergency Physicians
    Virginia Counselors Association
    Virginia Network of Private Providers
    Virginia Organization of Consumers Asserting Leadership
    Voices for Virginia’s Children
    Virginia Sheriff’s Institute
    Virginia Association of Area Associations on Aging
    Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police
    Virginia Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators
    Virginia Coalition of Private Provider Associations

  7. Unique opportunity for youth: HopeVoice

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    Our friends at the Virginia Family Network, a program of NAMI Virginia, are facilitating a great opportunity for youth in the Richmond area who have a mental health condition, or whose parent or sibling has a mental health condition. Join other youth ages 12-18 in similar situations to share your experiences (confidentially within the group) through digital storytelling. It’s free and there’s pizza! Contact Amanda Long at NAMI Virginia for more info: along@namivirginia.org or 804-285-8264 ext. 211.

    Here are details:

    HopeVoice: A New Group for Youth!

    WHEN:  Every Monday from 5pm – 7pm, starting April 15th, 2013 –  ending May 20th, Please note that the group is now meeting on Mondays, not Wednesdays!

    WHERE: Interstate Office Park, 2104 West Laburnum St., Richmond, VA 23227

    WHO:  Teens, Ages 12 – 18, who personally have a mental health condition or have a parent or sibling with a mental health condition

    WHAT: Six weeks youth group

    Do you have a parent or sibling with a mental health condition or have you yourself experienced mental health challenges? 

    Would you like to meet and talk with other teens who are going through what you are going through? 

    Using digital media, such as pictures, music, and video, participants will have the opportunity to share their experiences with their peers, and in the end, each participant will walk away with their own digital story!

    Pizza and refreshments will be served.  Cost of Group – Free!

    Click here to register!

    To sign up and for more information, contact Amanda Long, along@namivirginia.org or 804-285-8264 ext. 211.

    Registration ends Saturday April 13th, 2013.