The extensive isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic created a mental health crisis within America. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), in America, one in five adults reported that the pandemic impacted their mental health. Even though the majority of Americans recognize the need for mental health services, access to those services can often be limited, expensive, and inconvenient. An article published by our colleagues at Today’s Modern Educator looks at the work being done by The Women’s Center to improve the mental health and well being of women, men and families with affordable counseling services.
American families are in a mental health crisis. Depression and suicide rates amongst teenagers and children are continuing to rise in wake of the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 42 percent of adolescents were experiencing persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Consequently, Mental Health America found that more than 60 percent of adolescents with depression don’t receive the mental health treatment they need. The Women’s Center is a non-profit organization working to address this crisis by providing families in Northern Virginia with the counseling services they need.
Lack of access to affordable counseling services is nothing new. Adolescent mental health has always been a challenge for teachers and parents to recognize, address, and manage properly. In a recent podcast, Dr. Cam Caswell, PhD, a noted adolescent psychologist and speaker at The Women’s Center’s upcoming 2023 Leadership Conference, discussed how the pandemic emphasized the problems with how parents, teachers, and society has previously approached adolescent mental health.
“Before COVID, I would reach out to schools to talk, say, ‘I’d love to talk to your parents about mental health and what they can do to support it.’ And they’re like, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, we’re just interested in academics.’ Now, they call me and say, ‘Can you please come in and talk about mental health?’.” Dr. Caswell explained. “[I believe the pandemic] brought awareness to a problem that had been going on for quite some time because now, parents [and teachers] couldn’t avoid it because it was right under their noses.”
The demand for counseling services often outpaces what school counselors and local therapists can provide. The Women’s Center has been working for nearly 50 years to provide families in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. metro area with access to affordable counseling services. With over 65 therapists, the organization can offer counseling services that are convenient and affordable. The Women’s Center accepts insurance and also provides reduced fee services.
The Women’s Center offers counseling services across a wide range of issues including depression, anxiety, gender identity and sexual orientation, domestic abuse, and sexual assault. In addition to counseling services, The Women’s Center also provides victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault with trained advocates who provide support, referrals for legal and social services, and financial counseling.
Nearly 60 percent of the people who come to The Women’s Center receive affordable counseling services, and no one is ever turned away for the inability to pay. The Women’s Center is able to provide services at a reduced fee or on a sliding scale to help more teens and families because of support from the business community in the D.C. metro area.
Vicki Schmanske, Chief Corporate Operations Officer at Leidos – a major donor to The Women’s Center – explained why the work that The Women’s Center does is so important: “Leidos is committed to the communities where we live and work and to addressing the challenges associated with mental health and well-being,” Schmanske said. “One of the ways we do this is by working side-by-side with community organizations providing critical services and opportunities for those most in need. The Women’s Center provides crucial mental health services to women and their families. Through this support, and personal and professional development resources, we help build strong, healthy communities today and position our future generations for success.”
According to their 2021 Annual Impact Report, The Women’s Center served 5,000 people with counseling services and resources. As a result of these efforts, 86 percent of adolescent clients saw an improvement in their mental health. Also, The Women’s Center helped nearly 800 domestic violence victims with the mental health counseling, advocacy, and support services. As a result, most program clients reported improved mental health, enhanced safety, and felt less isolated.
“In our almost 50 years [of service], The Women’s Center has never seen such a vital need for domestic violence and mental health services as we do today,” explained Rachna Krishnan, Executive Director of The Women’s Center. “A community is stronger when mental health thrives within its people.”
When adolescents and adults receive the mental health services and support, they need, it can be transformational to their overall well being. Organizations like The Women’s Center help families by providing them with access to the counseling services and resources they need.
The Women’s Center will host the 2023 Women’s Leadership Conference on March 25th in Tysons, Virginia. The Conference will include an array of speakers, with expertise in leadership, health, and technology, with the overarching message of “Moving Forward with Intentionality”.
Register for The Women’s Center’s Leadership Conference here.