May 2020:

  • Launching New Podcast!
  • Warm Line Heats Up
  • Recovery Learning Collaborative
  • Writing for Mental Health
  • Mental Health Month Toolkit!

The Most Important
Mental Health Month

While mental health awareness events had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, many of us who rarely worry about our mental health are worrying more now.

Since 1949, Mental Health America affiliates have led the observance of May is Mental Health Month. The purpose is to promote understanding that mental health doesn't live in the shadows, but is something everyone should care about as part of their overall health.

A universal threat to our physical health is showing us how all the dimensions of our health - mental, physical and community - are intertwined to keep us well. The daily, healthy routines and social connections we had taken for granted foster resilience against illness, both mental and physical.

This year's Mental Health Month toolkit, "Tools 2 Thrive" (see below) provides practical tools that anyone can adapt to improve their mental health and increase resiliency. And they aren't just for the 1 in 5 of us who experience a mental illness, but also for the majority of us who are now dealing with degrees of anxiety or fear we never expected.

A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals just how much the COVID-19 outbreak has had an impact on mental health concerns across the country.
Results from mental health screening tests confirm increasing concern about mental health. More Virginians are taking national MHA's anxiety screen and more are showing moderate to severe anxiety. Young people and students still use the screening tool more than other groups, but the percentage of adults and non-students concerned about their mental health is increasing.

Taking a mental health test (screening) is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. MHA’s online screenings are meant to be a quick snapshot of your mental health. Mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, are real, common and treatable.

How have MHAV services changed?

  • We had to postpone or cancel Recovery Education programs, such as Workforce 101, and Facilitator Skills for Peer Recovery Specialists.
  • Two ReSTORE Trauma Recovery programs were postponed and our community outreach efforts under the Victim of Crimes Act are suspended.
  • Our peer support groups for adults with a mental illness under state probation supervision are on hold.

But what can we do?

Resiliency Resources

National MHA has created an extensive COVID-19 resource page: - A compilation of Virginia resources

Announcing the VPRSN Peer Into Recovery Podcast!
A podcast offering unique insights into the profession of peer support.

Our Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Network (VPRSN) is producing a series of podcasts featuring interviews with Peer Recovery Specialists - about their jobs, their passion, their experience, all geared toward how they are supporting hope and recovery.

Created and directed by Danielle Donaldson, our Program Manager, the first two interviews feature Cheryl DeHaven and David Rockwell, and are available now!

  • If you have an Android smartphone, you can use an app such as Google PodcastsStitcher, or Spotify to subscribe to the show and listen to episodes easily on your phone. Just download the app and then search for “Peer Into Recovery”, and you should be able to find and subscribe to the show.

  • If you have an iPhone, you can subscribe to Peer Into Recovery on iTunes, or you can download an alternative podcast app such as Overcast or Spotify.


Recovery Support Learning Collaborative!

We're expanding our Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Network through a new partnership with Lightworks Recovery and Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. The collaboration is providing two types of digital training and support for working or aspiring Peer Recovery Support Specialists.

Lightworks is facilitating semi-monthly peer support for Peer Supporters, and semi-monthly learning opportunities with guest presenters. See the schedule for the 1.5 hour sessions and more information here:
Writing / Facebook group

Since we can't do in person recovery education, we've increased our use of social media. One highlight: Jenny Sappington encouraging people's creative writing talents while fostering a resilience practice featured in our ReSTORE program. Posts are on our Facebook page:
Warm Line –
Good News!
During these times of physical distancing, maintaining human connection is possible through one of the earliest versions of virtual support – the telephone. No smart phone or internet service required. Virginia's statewide, peer run Warm Line for listening and mental health support:
(866) 400-6428
Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond Awards Grant to Warm Line

Our statewide, peer run Mental Health Warm Line is available and staffed to handle more calls. Contacts have jumped 25% in April as more people reach out for peer support, including those who may be struggling with fear, anxiety and depression for the first time. Peer Recovery Specialists have lived experience with some of these issues and how to use their own personal strengths and wellness practices to support resilience.

Thanks to an emergency grant from the Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond , we are putting two PRS operators on the busiest shifts in order to respond to more calls. Although limited to the next 6 weeks, this increased capacity will enable us to provide telephone support to more people. 
Governor issues Proclamation
for Mental Health Month
You can find the proclamation  here .
May Is Mental Health Month 2020:
Tools 2 Thrive
Mental health is something everyone should care about by using the May is Mental Health Month toolkit materials. The materials – even those that may need to be adapted for the short term because of COVID-19 and physical distancing – will be more useful than ever.
This year’s toolkit includes printable handouts:

State Budget Still Up in the Air
In March we celebrated a new state budget from the legislature that would include the largest increase ever for mental health services. Then everything changed due to impact from the pandemic, and all new spending was put on hold. Legislators and the Governor will reconvene in a few months and make hard decisions based on more information about the state's finances.
The decrease in state revenue will be drastic, but mental health services are even more vital now to support people in need. Many experts predict a national mental health crisis following the pandemic. The state's mental health services should be a top priority.

For a summary of important bills that passed and original budget items of note, see our legislative summary on the website at:                           

Recovery Education Programs

Although our scheduled group programs this Spring could not take place, at this point we are still planning to offer two sessions of ReSTORE – Survivors of Trauma Obtaining Resiliency and Empowerment, a CELT in September and a professional development for Peer Recovery Specialists later in the year.

All scheduled programs are subject to change, but anyone interested (full scholarships available!) is encouraged to apply through our website. More information is available here:
MHAV's Virginia Peer Recovery Specialist Network provides professional development and networking for Virginia's peer recovery workforce. Check out the PRS job/internship opportunity site!
Virginia's Statewide, Peer-Run Warm Line
(866) 400-6428

Monday through Friday from 9AM to 9PM
Saturday and Sunday from 5PM to 9PM

Your donation helps us offer non-judgmental peer support and prevent crisis situations. 

Your support also provides scholarships to our recovery education programs, and helps us to continue spreading awareness and advocating for better mental health policies across Virginia.

Please invest in mental health today. Thank you!
Mental Health America of Virginia | (804) 257-5591 | E-mail | Website

To educate, empower, and advocate to improve mental health for all Virginians
Please conside r making a donation to support mental health and wellness in Virginia! Click here to make a tax-deductible donation .
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