Living in Charlottesville, VA, I've had a hard time finding mental health help near me. It's hard to get a counselor who takes my insurance, is taking new patients, and can fit my work schedule. Getting a therapist for my daughter has been even worse. Pediatric psychologists are scarce. The stress of finding care only worsens whatever stress you had in the first place.
And yet, people of all ages need mental health support right now. The COVID pandemic, the worsening economy, political clashes, the climate crisis, the war in Ukraine — it's safe to say we've all taken a lot of punches. Even indirect ones can impact you. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that about half of teens felt persistently sad and hopeless during the pandemic. Adults haven't done much better.
Mental Health Help Near Me this May
The Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition works to fill the gaps. UVA Health is part of the coalition. For the month of May, Mental Health Awareness Month, they've created a calendar of community events that promote self-care and emotional wellness.
Find resources for yourself or others at a wide range of events including:
- Free workshop on Healing Through Our Losses
- Fridays After Five Resource and Swag Table
- Prolyfyck Run/Walk For Mental Health Awareness
- SafeTALK Training On Suicide Alertness
See the whole calendar of mental health month events.
Fun Stress-Relief Events for Kids & Teens
The group Friends of UVA Children's has developed a free youth activity guide for May. You'll find dozens of local and virtual events. These aim to help kids and caregivers deal with stress, low self-esteem, anxiety, and other challenges.
The calendar bursts with adventures for all ages. Activities like fishing trips, hikes, arts, dance, self-defense, food, and more.
Not all teenagers will let you lure them to family yoga or emotion-mapping exercise. Still, your teen might like:
- Getting a free comic book
- Looking at stars at 10 p.m. out in the woods
- Learning how to make macrame (it's 'in' again)
- Joining the library's teen advisory board (looks good on that college application!)
And if you're a parent or caregiver of a teenager, check out these virtual sessions on:
- Effects of social media on teen development and what to do about them with Haley Stephens, PhD
- How to balance your family's stress with practical tools
Some events require registration. Find them at the Shine Guide activity calendar.
Ongoing Efforts: Uniting Primary & Mental Health Care
UVA Health serves as the hub for the western region of the Virginia Mental Health Access Program (VMAP). This statewide program helps healthcare providers take better care of children and teens with mental health conditions.
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"I'm so excited," says Caitlin Anderson, PhD, psychologist at UVA Children's. "I love the idea of regularly checking in on an individual's mental health, just like we regularly check blood pressure and other health factors." Currently, parents face a lot of barriers in finding therapists and psychologists for their kids. Training and supporting primary care doctors and pediatricians will help address this issue.
Anderson also points out that "mental and physical health are not mutually exclusive. Our mental health affects our physical health and vice versa." And for Anderson, the impact of this shift in thinking has powerful potential. Thinking about mental health in the context of a child's overall health "shapes our overall health and wellness across the lifespan."