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Valley Hope Counseling Center

Mission: Valley Hope Counseling Center’s (Valley Hope) mission is to provide access to mental health services for all.

Community Need: Mental health issues have become a crisis in this country. Suicides now outnumber deaths from car accidents, and the CDC is reporting that half of all Americans will experience a diagnosable mental health problem in their lifetime. Locally, mental health needs are particularly disturbing. Augusta Health’s needs assessment identifies higher rates of both suicide and poor reported mental health in this region, as compared to state and national averages. It also notes that access to mental health services is a “significant struggle for many”. Meanwhile, the most recent CAPSAW assessment reflects the same information, with mental health services reported by both clients and service providers as one of the single most important needs in the community.  Counseling has repeatedly been shown to be an extremely effective tool in addressing mental health issues, with little to no side effects and the gain of skills and insight that can positively impact lives permanently. Despite this knowledge, the vast majority of people who need treatment do not receive it. Studies approximate that less than one-third of people in need receive any services, and the number one reason cited for this is cost.

Primary Activities: Valley Hope offers low-fee professional counseling, working to meet the mental health needs of lower-income individuals and families who cannot afford full-fee services. They provide individual, couples, marital, family and group counseling for a wide range of mental health issues, and all fees are determined by a sliding scale based on income so services can be affordable and accessible.

Constituents Served: Valley Hope serves the communities of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County.  Any resident in need of counseling, regardless of income level, is eligible for their services.  Their target population are lower income and/or uninsured who cannot afford to pay full-fee (typically over $100 per session). They served a total of 561 individuals last year broken down as follows: 81 under 18 years old (14%), 49 aged 18-23 (9%), 326 aged 22-44 (58%), 57 aged 45-54 (10%), 48 aged 55 or older (9%).

Program Details:  They are seeking funding for services to local adolescents. Studies show that teenagers are experiencing the highest rates of stress in the country, contributing to staggering increases in adolescent mental health issues.  The most recent data shows the highest levels of adolescent depression ever recorded, and the CDC reported that 1 in 10 individuals aged 15-19 attempted suicide in the past year. Unfortunately, despite an estimated 20% of teens experiencing a mental health disorder in any given year, approximately 60-70% of adolescents with mental health needs do not receive any mental health treatment.  Teens have significant obstacles to seeking help.  Typically, they have had to rely upon parental income, which is a complication since studies show at least 45% of teens would not seek care for depression if parental notification was required.  This makes adolescents at even higher risk for not accessing vital treatment. Funding received would subsidize low-fee mental health counseling services to local adolescents so services would be available based solely on the teen’s income, if any.  This will empower them to access the services they need on their own terms.

Amount Requested: $5,000

Operating Budget: $156,015

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