To say the lockdowns in response to the Coronavirus pandemic have been trouble for the mental health of citizens is a massive understatement. Suicides and several other psychological problems brought on by the isolation have seen a marked rise, making the job of the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck Community Services Board more important than ever. 

On a mission to provide clinical and support services to those in need, as well as educating the public on the nature of disabilities, the MPNNCSB operates within ten counties, from Westmoreland down to Gloucester Point. It’s an area the size of Delaware, which can present quite a lot of logistical challenges, especially when accounting for the rivers in the region. Its services are related to early interventions, mental health, prevention, substance use and intellectual disabilities.

Last month, Linda Hodges, the board’s director, was on hand to give Westmoreland County’s Board of Supervisors several updates on what the MPNNCSB had been up to recently. Even with the pandemic seemingly on the wind-down, they have been busy, moving the counseling center that was previously in Warsaw over to Tappahannock in January.

“Unfortunately that puts us a bit farther from Westmoreland County,” Hodges stated, “and one of the things we’d like to do in the upcoming years is maybe install a satellite clinic in Montross so that we can bring some services closer to the area.”

The other program that got moved to Tappahannock was the psycho-social program known as Charter House. Serving individuals with severe mental illnesses, it had previously been in Kilmarnock for over 20 years until a fire burned the facility down on December 31, 1999. For the past few years, it had been in Northumberland.

“By moving to Duke Street in Tappahannock, we are able to serve from a more centralized location,” Hodges continued. “For instance, people in Colonial Beach previously had to travel a long distance to Kilmarnock, and now, they can just go to Tappahannock.”

The MPNNCSB had already started doing meetings via Zoom in March of last year, allowing them to adapt and seamlessly provide its services to individuals through Zoom and the telephone, though it still does some meetings face-to-face, particularly for those in psychiatric crisis.

With mental health of many people suffering from the prolonged lockdowns, it’s undoubtedly a relief that it remains possible to find someone to talk to in order to break the isolation that the county has been stuck in.