Portsmouth, Va. — Virginia Organizing’s Portsmouth Chapter will host a free community mental health forum on Wednesday, June 8 at 6 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Portsmouth. The chapter has sought to bring attention to mental health issues in Portsmouth through campaigns on the implementation of state-mandated Marcus Alerts and the use of evidence-based mindfulness practices in Portsmouth City Public Schools. The Mental Health Community Forum is an opportunity for local residents to learn about these initiatives and how they are designed to support the mental well-being of Portsmouth youth and families.
In 2021, in an advisory titled, “Protecting Youth Mental Health,” the U.S. Surgeon General wrote, “Mental health affects every aspect of our lives: how we feel about ourselves and the world; solve problems, cope with stress, and overcome challenges; build relationships and connect with others; and perform in school, at work and throughout life.” After two years of COVID-19 school closings, job losses, and deaths, the toll on the mental health of many Virginians is apparent.
Jessica Dennis, the assistant director of Portsmouth Department of Behavior Healthcare Services, will speak at the forum on the roll-out of the Marcus Alert in the city.
Angel M. Bunton will share insights on child and adolescent mental health. Bunton is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and currently works at Family Guidance Centers in Virginia Beach. She has a masters degree in Social Work from Norfolk State University and is a Portsmouth resident.
Coach Jensen Baker has successfully integrated mindfulness practices into his classroom at Churchland Academy and will share his outcomes.
“I really feel like mindfulness is the key to learning. Before a kid can learn, he has to be able to pay attention. Mindfulness means paying attention in the present moment,” Jensen said.
Tyran Green, Portsmouth resident and Virginia Organizing board member, will share her personal experience with mental illness and the challenges of securing services.
To interview a spokesperson about this event, contact Meghan McNamara at 847-922-1213 or Meghan@virginia-organizing.org.