Walk to help mentally ill residents in Montgomery County -- Gazette.Net


Volunteers of American Chesapeake, a faith-based and nonprofit organization dedicated to helping residents in need, is hosting a Walk for Wellness Mental Health Community Day. It will be held at Wheaton Regional Park in Silver Spring on Saturday from 8 to 10 a.m.

Organizers hope to raise money to support treatment for people with mental health disabilities.

“We thought that walking is the most common yet powerful healthy activity that can bring people together in the quest for wellness. We also thought that having our families and [four-legged] companions join us would be great,” Victoria Karakcheyeva, special program director at Volunteers of America Chesapeake, wrote in an email to The Gazette.

Karakcheyeva said the event is for the family, including pets.

“We will have music, are planning activities for children [such as] arts and crafts [and] outdoor games [and] little stations for pets,” Karakcheyeva wrote.

The nonprofit has a rehabilitation program in Silver Spring at 13415 Connecticut Ave.

Karakcheyeva said many clients come from a background of homelessness, poverty, lack of education, unemployment, multiple incarcerations, and hospitalizations. Some people might not have access to information or have no basic documentation, such as a birth certificate, a Social Security number, or a state identification.

“Our case managers can help to initiate the process of getting appropriate documentation, applying for entitlements, engaging consumer in treatment, helping them to get stable housing and access to other resources they need,” Karakcheyeva wrote.

The Volunteers of American Chesapeake nonprofit in Silver Spring offers a rehabilitation program that serves adults with severe and persistent mental illnesses.

According to Karakcheyeva, clients have an assigned counselor visit and an individual rehabilitation plan, including skills training such as personal hygiene, grooming, exercise, laundry, and money management.

The nonprofit also has a 24/7 on-call crisis staff support available to clients.

According to the Montgomery County state’s attorney’s office, the number of “intakes” — people who were arrested — at the Montgomery County correctional facilities decreased from 9,256 in 2010 to 7,879 in 2013. But the number of people who needed mental health screenings increased from 2,161 to 2,222.

The 2,222 were 28 percent of the jail’s population. Of those, 926 had to be taken to the jail’s 34-bed crisis intervention housing unit, where the detention center houses the most seriously mentally ill.

“Mental Health has always been that ‘gray zone’ that people hesitate to bring some light into. There is a lot of stigma associated with mental illness and lack of education in the community about causes and effects of mental illness as well as available resources that people can use for themselves and members of their families,” Karakcheyeva wrote.

For more information about the walk or to register, visit www.voachesapeake.org/walk.