New program offers mental health support for children and teens

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It seems that now more than ever, kids have a lot on their plates.  There are so many dealing with bullying, school stresses and problems at home, but a new program is helping without their families having to go far to find it.

Nine-year-old Erin Moore was getting picked on at school, and her confidence seriously took a hit.

“It’s hard to know where to turn,” says Erin’s grandma, Nancy Maxey.

She asked their family doctor where to get some help for Erin, and it ended up being right there in the same practice.  To meet a growing need for pediatric mental health services, UMFS and Bon Secours are partnering up to provide clinicians in primary care offices at Laburnum Medical Center and St. Mary’s Hospital.  They treat patients ages 5 to 17 who are experiencing depression, anxiety, grief, abuse or are contemplating suicide.

“We’re trying to intervene early and really provide the intervention that’s unique to that child’s and family’s situation,” explains Marcy Johnson, the UMFS Vice President of Programs.


“It’s a stitch in time saves nine approach to addressing those needs to adverse childhood experiences,” explains Robert Fortini, the Bon Secours Vice President of Clinical Services.  “Certainly addressing those behavioral obstacles at 5-years of age or 6-years of age is the best way to do that.”


Early traumas often lead to chronic illnesses or criminal behavior, according to a study by the CDC and Kaiser Health.


This program hopes to prevent problems down the road and give patients like Erin another resource in a doctor’s office where they are already comfortable.


“Having one right there has been a blessing,” Maxey says about this new mental health support within the practice.


Since starting this partnership, Bon Secours says there has been a drop in the number of emergency room visits, which cost a lot more than primary care appointments.  The program is planning to expand to Hanover County in the next few months.

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