Thankful for the WTCSB

Published 9:38 pm Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Among other things, May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to point out the seriousness of mental illness and the severe effects it can have on both the afflicted and people around them.

Among its many statistics, The National Alliance on Mental Illness states on its website:

  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. — 10 million or 4.2 percent — experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
  • Seventy percent of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition, and at least 20 percent live with a serious mental illness.
  • Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthmic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third-most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults ages 18-44.
  • Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death the U.S., the third-leading cause of death in people ages 10-24 and the second-leading cause of death for people ages 15-24.

You don’t have to rely on these bullet points to know that mental illness have far-reaching effects. Consider in the past several years news reports of men and women who dramatically killed other people, and were later discovered to have been suffering from paranoia or severe schizophrenia.


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One organization that works with these issues every day is the Western Tidewater Community Services Board. Among other things, this quasi-governmental agency offers emergency services and helps find ongoing counseling opportunities and case management for adults and children with serious mental illnesses. Its crisis management program is designed to provide a safety net for those who are experiencing acute dysfunctions that require immediate clinical intervention.

During the 2014 fiscal year, the WTCSB provided ongoing services to 4,026 adults and children from Suffolk, providing services with a value of more than $11.4 million, according to a data sheet on the agency’s website. The same data sheet shows that the number of emergency custody orders and temporary detention orders issued in Suffolk grew by more than 44 percent during the five-year period from 2009 to 2013.

With statistics showing an increase around the nation in opioid drug abuse, it’s likely that the community services board’s work will trend ever higher, especially in the areas of drug addiction and recovery, suicide prevention and crisis intervention. It’s good to know they’re on the job.

For more information about the WTCSB, or to learn how to take advantage of the agency’s offerings for yourself or someone in your family, visit