Letter to Editor: Stephanie Foran, Friends of Loudoun Mental Health

July 25, 2013

Dear Editor: The ”Teen Support Programs Expanding To Address Growing Needs” article by Danielle Nadler in your July 19 issue was not only informative about new and expanded mental health services available in Loudoun for children and youth, it also highlighted a very brave and special young woman, Emily May.

The stigma and discrimination associated with mental illnesses is, unfortunately, alive and well. Stigma is still driven by fear and ignorance about mental illnesses and a lack of awareness that recovery is possible. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. There is no shame in asking for psychiatric care.

A mental illness can be defined as a health condition that changes a person’s thinking, feelings, or behavior (or all three) and that causes the person distress and difficulty in functioning. Mental illness affects about 20 percent or one in five people, whether children or adults, at any given time in the United States. In adults, four of the ten leading causes of disability are mental illnesses. It is estimated that two-thirds of all young people with mental health problems are not receiving the help they need.

Emily May’s willingness to talk about her anxiety and depression and her journey to recovery is to be applauded. Through her bravery, she has significantly helped break the stigma attached to mental health challenges, particularly for youth and children. Emily’s candor has helped many young people not feel so alone, to realize they have a treatable disease and that help is available and recovery is possible. She has opened the doors for people (young and adults) to feel comfortable about seeking psychiatric help. Many kudos to Emily!

In addition to referencing other IOP services for youth coming to Loudoun in the near future, your article discussed in detail Grafton Integrated Health Network’s Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) services that have been available since 2010. Like other providers, Grafton accepts most health insurances but because Grafton is a not-for-profit health care provider, they also accept Medicaid and Medicare insurances. Their mental health outpatient services are also available to adults.

Stephanie Foran, President

Friends of Loudoun Mental Health