WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Anxiety, depression, and even thoughts of suicide are all potential concerns for people impacted by substance use and mental health issues.
"Some people will have access to drugs or alcohol or even tobacco, and they will turn to that to try to cope with some of the things that they're experiencing," said Jennifer Daley, the development director of Bacon Street Youth and Family Services.
The Peninsula not-for-profit serves adolescents and teens with substance abuse and mental health issues, along with their families.
Daley said COVID-19 has brought on new challenges for the people her group serves.
"A pandemic is a whole new level of stress. It really is. I mean, you are suddenly thrown into turmoil, you are suddenly sent home and kept isolated from your peers," said Daley. "They may be dealing with their family's job loss. And so, there's housing insecurity, there's the threat of eviction. Maybe they need help with food."
Bacon Street Youth and Family Services has been busy addressing these new concerns, while finding creative ways to continue educating and counseling kids, including webinars, peer mentoring and equine therapy.
"Horses Encouraging Wise Choices" is an 8-week intensive group therapy program held at Dream Catchers at the Cori Sikich Therapeutic Riding Center in Toano.
"It gives kids the chance to interact with horses one on one, and they can process some of their mental health issues while they're helping to care for and interact with a horse," Daley explained.
All services are provided regardless of a person's ability to pay. It's a benefit Daley said became critical over the past year.
"So many families have experienced job loss and loss of insurance," said Daley. "It is an incredibly critical time in their child's development, and it can be dangerous if they are not able to seek and receive mental health care for their child. So, Bacon Street provides that safety net for them."
Daley said your support helps strengthen that safety net as the group works to highlight the reality of substance abuse, diminish the stigma surrounding it, and embrace some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
"They can give them the hope that they need that they can become a healthier family and they can become a more resilient person," said Daley.
Give Local 757 Day also marks Bacon Street's 50th anniversary! The group launched a fundraising campaign in celebration, and they're asking for your help to reach their $30,000 goal.
Many other local nonprofits also need your support as part of the Give Local 757 initiative to spark local philanthropy. To donate, go to givelocal757.org.