by Shawn Nowlin
In most communities, mental health disorders, substance use disorders, and developmental disabilities are sensitive topics.
Data collected from the most recent community health needs assessment revealed that roughly four out of ten Roanoke residents are severely underserved as it pertains to mental health services.
For much of the Roanoke Valley, Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare (BRBH), which annually serves 7,000 people, is the public provider of outpatient behavioral health services.
Mark Chadwick currently serves as the CEO of BRBH. A longtime healthcare professional with an extensive background, the University of North Texas alum is also a Certified Public Accountant.
Surprisingly enough, behavioral healthcare is considered the second most difficult service to access in the region. A new counseling center is currently in the works, and it’s expected to have a profound impact on the community.
Located at 3517 Brandon Ave. and scheduled to open in early 2025, the center will centralize a variety of services into one location.
Last month, the facility sold for approximately $1.5 million. For the counseling center to run effectively, an estimated $10 million is still needed for renovations. A combination of selling current properties and using existing properties as collateral will likely happen to finance the project.
To meet the demand across the Commonwealth, at least 130 more nurse practitioner positions need to be filled. This BRBH location will assist in alleviating some of those personnel pressures.
The Mental Health First Aid program, which will be taught at the center, is an eight-week course that teaches community residents how to identify the signs of a mental health crisis and what to do when that happens.
It is often said that the most difficult journeys begin with a simple step. The team at the counseling center, led by Chadwick, wants people to know that they are excited to roll up their sleeves and get to work.
What excites Mason Clark most about the upcoming counseling center is the possibilities that it represents. “The way I see it, having access to mental health services should be a given, not just for those with money,” he said. “From experience, I can tell you that the smallest of things can make the biggest impact. I hope people take advantage of this resource because the value of knowledge cannot be overstated.”
The new space will support both youth and adult services. Continuing to operate will be the Burrell Center on McDowell Avenue.
For the most up-to-date information, visit https://www.brbh.org.