United Way of Roanoke Valley and community partners launch mental health awareness campaign

Published: May. 4, 2023 at 7:42 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. United Way of Roanoke Valley and its community partners are launching a public awareness campaign.

It’s dubbed ‘Go Green for Mental Health,’ and the organizations are encouraging supporters to wear green ribbons and buttons with the mental health awareness flag.

“So we’re asking folks to wear and share,” said Leslie Clark, Director of Family Health Strategies for United Way of Roanoke Valley. “Wear that ribbon. Share the information.”

They hope the effort will help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and encourage more people to get the help they need.

Many community organizations are involved, including Blue Ridge Behavioral Health, Bradley Free Clinic, Carilion Clinic and Family Service of Roanoke Valley.

“It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to ask for help,” Clark said. “And mental health affects everyone in some form or fashion.”

Here in the Roanoke Valley and across the county, the partners say mental health care issues are on the rise. The need for more education and a community-wide response is critical.

Letitia Hawkins-Beatty is Division Director of Adult and Family Services for Blue Ridge Behavioral Health.

“The pandemic has certainly exacerbated mental health needs in our community, but we’re also seeing that mental health symptoms are showing up earlier in our children, so I think it’s time to bring awareness and also to share a hopeful message that this is treatable,” she said.

“A lot of people will come in and not know exactly what they need help with, and what resources are even available,” said Brian Bailey with the Bradley Free Clinic.

Bailey is a community health worker who calls on his own experience with addiction and mental health issues.

“I had to hit my personal rock bottom and be willing to ask for help,” Bailey told WDBJ7. “And just knowing there was help available, that’s where my recovery really started.”