Group seeks to help those with mental illness

This week, the World Health Organization recognized World Mental Health Day to shine a spotlight on global mental health education, awareness and advocacy and to address social stigma.

Half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. Much can be done to help build resilience from an early age to help prevent mental distress and to manage and recover from mental illness. Prevention begins with understanding the early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness and continues with support for families who are caring for their loved ones.

Social support is one very important component of prevention and ongoing treatment. Right now, 8.4 million caregiving families — or prisons — are the only real hospitals for their loved ones coping with mental illness. We can do better.

A newly formed local nonprofit organization called Hope Family Village is working to create a community-centric collaborative offering acceptance, housing and sustainable support for people with mental health conditions and their families. We invite the community to learn more by visiting our website at hopefamilyvillage.org and to support us in our journey to transform state surplus property into an environment for socialization and connection, a much better alternative to hospitalization or prison.

The Virginia General Assembly has already passed a budget amendment on behalf of Hope Family Village and our other community partners to work together to create this innovative and intentional community. What better place than here, the home of the first public facility constructed solely for the care and treatment mental illness, to support families that are profoundly touched by mental health concerns? Haven't we all?

Lisa Thomas, HFV Board of Directors

Williamsburg

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