(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) A new mental health program is taking shape for women who have recently given birth at Reston Hospital Center.
The perinatal and postpartum program at the hospital will help women adjust to motherhood or develop an attachment to their baby while maintaining their current level of function.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the program is planned for tomorrow (Thursday) prior to the official grand opening on Sept. 25.
“This perinatal/postpartum mental health program stands as a testament to HCA Healthcare, Dominion Hospital and Reston Hospital’s commitment to comprehensive healthcare that addresses the unique needs of women,” Dominion Hospital CEO Ben Brown said. “It’s an initiative that recognizes the importance of women’s mental health and seeks to provide a nurturing environment for healing, growth, and empowerment.”
Women will be treated by a team of clinicians who specialize in perinatal mental health through the voluntary treatment program. It is open to women 18 years or older who are pregnant, have given birth or are one year postpartum.
The program will be open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in suite 561 of pavilion two at RHC (1850 Town Center Parkway)
Postpartum depression effects roughly 15% of women, according to Reston Hospital Center. It is often treated by therapy or medicine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also recently approved Zurzuvae, a postpartum depression medication that claims to reduce symptoms by as early as day three.
“The significance of this program extends beyond individual well-being,” Brown said. “Research has consistently shown that investing in women’s mental health radiates positive effects throughout families, workplaces, and entire communities. By nurturing the mental wellness of women, we contribute to creating a ripple effect of strength and positivity that reverberates far beyond the walls of any single facility.”
Updated at 9:25 p.m.: The man was safely apprehended by police.
Earlier: Local police are responding to an incident this evening at Springfield Mall where a man is reportedly “experiencing a crisis,” according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
The man is standing on the top deck of a parking garage, according to police.
“Our co-responder unit and officers are attempting to negotiate with the man,” FCPD wrote in a statement.
As of 5:45 p.m., police are urging people to avoid the area.
Officers are at the Springfield Mall for a man experiencing a crisis. He's standing on the top deck of a parking garage. Our Co-Responder Unit and officers are attempting to negotiate with the man. Please avoid the area. #FCPD pic.twitter.com/tAa07uKEbi
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) September 6, 2023
A new clinic that offers mental health services is opening its doors in Reston this November, according to the company’s website.
Columbia Associates is expected to open at 12007 Sunrise Valley Drive in Suite 120.
“This state of the art clinic will allow us to better support our clients and provide care for even more people,” the company’s website states.
A spokesperson for Columbia Associates did not return multiple requests for comment from FFXnow.
The company has locations throughout the region, including Aldie, Arlington and Alexandria.
The clinic offers therapy, psychiatry across a continuum of care, mental health treatment, and psychotherapy.
Providers speak of mix of languages, ranging from Arabic to Sindhi to French, according to the company.
Image via Google Maps
Fairfax County will bolster its capabilities to respond to and resolve emergency calls related to mental health this fall.
The Fairfax County Police Department and the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board presented plans to roll out a fourth co-responder team and a telehealth pilot program at a Board of Supervisors safety and security committee meeting on Tuesday (Aug. 1).
Active since its pilot in March 2021 and made permanent in 2022, the co-responder program pairs a Crisis Intervention Team-trained law enforcement officer with a CSB crisis intervention specialist to respond to behavioral health calls. The duo rides together in the same patrol cruiser and either self-dispatch proactively to behavioral health calls or are dispatched by emergency services, FCPD Lieutenant Joanna Culkin explained during the meeting.
Co-responder teams aim to de-escalate situations involving an individual with a mental health crisis without use of force, incarceration or hospitalization to decrease instances of individuals being harmed by law enforcement.
Currently, three co-responder teams operate in the county, according to CSB Division Director of Emergency and Crisis Care Services Laura Maddock.
Two of the teams are active from noon to midnight seven days a week. The third team currently works from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. three days a week but will expand its coverage to match the other two teams on Aug. 15.
The fourth co-responder team that Maddock expects to join in late September or early October will follow a similar trajectory, starting with three-day coverage before transitioning to operating for a full week.
The continuing expansion of these mental health crisis services comes after the program showed measurable success in a June 30 data pull, Culkin says. She noted that the co-responder program has successfully increased timely on-scene assessment, with the presence of a clinician often de-escalating situations.
“Sometimes just having the clinician show up paired with our law enforcement counterpart puts people at ease and lets them know that, really, behavioral health is the main focus of our response,” Culkin said.
Culkin cited increased linkages to behavioral health services and higher levels of care, decreased rates of incarceration and arrest, and decreased visits to emergency services as benefits of the program. She said the program helps address “the [psychiatric] bed capacity issue across the state of Virginia” by resolving many cases in the field so fewer individuals need further care.
Of the 1,300 calls that got a co-responder response since the program began, 50% were resolved in the field, 30% were diverted from arrest or hospitalization, 26% resulted in higher level of care and 17% resulted in an Emergency Custody Order and/or Temporary Detention Order, Culkin said.
“That 17% is a really good number for us,” Culkin said. “When we’re looking at if a regular patrol officer had responded…without the ability to do those timely on scene assessments or come up with a safety or care plan, we’re looking at a significantly higher number of ECOs and TDOS.”
To further illustrate the co-responder program’s impact, Culkin recounted an instance where a clinician successfully worked with officers to “talk down” a “distraught subject” who was standing atop a ledge on a parking garage in Dunn Loring and “get him the help he needed.”
On another occasion, a co-responder team responded to a behavioral health call from a man “in emotional distress who indicated that nobody had ever celebrated his birthday.” After helping the man, the pair came back the next day with a birthday cake and enjoyed a belated celebration with him.
“These are good examples of both of the ways the co-responder program has had a positive impact with our community,” Culkin said.
The FCPD and CSB will additionally pilot a new telehealth program following the same fall timeline as the fourth co-responder team. Two police stations in Reston and McLean will receive iPads that officers can use to remotely contact a trained clinician at the Merrifield Crisis Response Center around the clock to fill gaps in coverage, since the co-responder teams don’t operate 24/7.
Maddock hinted that the county is working on implementing a follow-up team, which would consist of a peer and clinician going out to subjects of co-responder cases for check ins and referrals.
FCPD is also striving to increase the number of police officers who have undergone CIT training from 40% to 42% by the end of the year, Culkin said. The number has been slowly increasing over the last couple of years after less than a third of officers had received CIT training in 2021.
Inova Mount Vernon Hospital will open a new behavioral health unit next week, marking an expansion of mental health care along the Richmond Highway corridor.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held yesterday morning (Tuesday) for the nearly $10 million facility, which will increase bed capacity at the hospital by 67%.
Close to $4 million was donated by Amyia and Jeff Veatch, a local entrepreneur who founded the engineering firm Apex Systems. The family previously donated money to help modernize the hospital’s emergency room.
Hospital leaders and a number of elected officials attended the ceremony, including Rep. Don Beyer, State Sen. Scott Surovell, Del. Paul Krizek, Mount Vernon District School Board Rep. Karen Corbett Sanders, and Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck (who had to leave to vote on the county budget).
The Inova Veatch Family Behavioral Health Unit will open to hospital patients on May 16. It will feature 20 additional beds, private rooms, “quiet” spaces, modernized equipment, and enhanced safety features, like impact resistance windows and drywall.
Along with the hospital’s existing adult psychiatric unit, the total capacity for behavioral health patients will now be 50 beds.
As many noted during the ceremony, mental health care and behavioral services have become a priority in Fairfax County, as rates of depression and suicidal thoughts, specifically among young people, have risen drastically in recent years.
“We have a significant shortage of mental health services all over Virginia and especially acute here in Northern Virginia,” Surovell, who represents Hybla Valley, Woodlawn, and parts of Franconia, told FFXnow. “That’s the big reason we need to expand these services. If you don’t have a place for people to go when they need help, it can result in really tragic consequences.”
He called private contributions like the one made by the Veatch family “critical” to expanding care, particularly since behavioral services “are often not the most profitable areas for a hospital to invest in.”
But he said it’s also on the state to make the necessary investments as the need for mental health care continues to skyrocket.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has proposed $230 million in this year’s budget for addressing gaps in behavioral health services. Surovell said that doesn’t go far enough.
“This is about half of what we need because the state is so far behind in investing in behavioral health,” he said.
Mount District Supervisor Dan Storck agreed, stating at the ribbon-cutting that “we’ve never done enough” to provide mental health care both locally and across the country. Adolescent care in particular is lacking, he told FFXnow.
“We need more adolescent psychiatry units. Our adolescents are bearing the brunt of Covid,” Storck said. “They need more support than we can provide. Inova is stepping up in their Fairfax hospital, but that’s still inadequate to our adolescent needs.”
Beyer shared that his son suffers from schizophrenia and has been hospitalized “many times” at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital. The additional unit will hopefully provide care to more people in need like his son, he said.
While more resources are needed, the Veatch behavioral health unit and emergency room are potentially life savers for residents of the Richmond Highway corridor, Surovell said.
“They don’t have to travel to either Alexandria [City] or Franconia or Fairfax to get these services,” he said. “Having a facility that’s close can be the difference between life or death for a lot of people.”
An armed woman who police say was experiencing a mental health crisis is now being held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
The woman, who has been identified as 29-year-old Maryland resident Brittney Copelin, was taken into custody shortly after midnight today (Thursday), ending a shutdown of Richmond Highway in the Hybla Valley area that lasted about 34 hours.
While acknowledging that some business owners and community members grew frustrated by the duration of the barricade, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis described the handling of the situation as a positive reflection of how police practices have changed over the past decade.
“The reason it took so long was we wanted to get to the best possible outcome for a person involved in a mental health crisis, because that’s what this was,” Davis said at a press conference this afternoon.”There were certainly crimes committed, and we can get into that, but this was ultimately a person in a mental health crisis.”
The Fairfax County Police Department has charged Copelin with two counts of abduction, two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
She also faces multiple criminal charges in the City of Laurel, Maryland, where she lives in an apartment with a woman whom she has now been accused of abducting.
According to Davis, the saga began on Friday (March 24) when Copelin and the other woman, who hasn’t been publicly identified, left their apartment. The other woman’s mother filed a missing persons report with the Laurel Police Department on Sunday (March 26).
Around 11 a.m. on Tuesday (March 28), the Charles County Sheriff’s Office asked the FCPD to conduct a welfare check on a critical missing person in the 7200 block of Fordson Road, where officers encountered the woman who said she had been abducted.
The officers found Copelin in a 2016 Jeep SUV parked in the 7300 block of Richmond Highway, but when they approached the vehicle, she took off, leading to “a very brief, low-speed pursuit,” Davis said.
Coming to a stop on a service road for Richmond Highway and Lockheed Blvd, Copelin then took out a handgun and put it to her head, according to police.
Davis said the officers reacted appropriately by backing off once they saw the gun and calling in the department’s SWAT team. A roughly 1-mile stretch of Richmond Highway was closed between Lockheed Blvd and Boswell Avenue, as special operations officers, crisis negotiators and mental health clinicians arrived on the scene. Read More
Fairfax County high school students will soon have access to free mental health services. Starting April 10, Hazel Health will provide students with weekly virtual therapy sessions at no cost to families.
The school system’s website says Hazel’s therapists can help students with mood or behavior changes, anxiety, social skills, bullying, family relationships, and academic stress.
In a statement to FFXNow, the school system said it included funds for telemental health services “to reduce access barriers for youth requiring mental health services beyond those provided by FCPS school-based mental health professionals.”
Last year, the Fairfax County Youth Survey showed that students were more depressed than at any other time in the past decade. The report also found that specific groups, such as female, Hispanic, and LGBTQ students, were more likely to experience depression.
The data mirrors a nationwide issue. Last year, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported poor mental health among teens and children nationwide, with the pandemic compounding existing challenges like poverty and bullying.
FCPS said it contracted Hazel following a competitive process that began last spring and that the company previously provided services to several large school divisions.
“Hazel is HIPAA and FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)-compliant, and their services incorporate practices that encourage parent engagement and ensure student safety,” the school system said in its statement.
How to access services:
- Parents permit FCPS to share basic demographic information with Hazel
- Request mental health services by visiting the Hazel website
- Provide consent for Hazel Mental Health Services on the Hazel website
According to FCPS, the teletherapy will be available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“Therapists will be locally-licensed clinicians; 50% of whom identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC); and 40% of whom are bilingual,” FCPS said in a newsletter earlier this month. “More than 15 languages are available.”
Hazel will help connect students to long-term care if needed after therapy sessions are completed.
Fairfax County is seeking more state support for education, a return of $39 million for regional transportation projects and more in its recently approved legislative priorities for next year.
At a meeting last week, the Board of Supervisors approved the adoption of the county’s 2023 legislative programs for both state and federal lawmakers. It passed by a 9-1 vote with only Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity opposing.
The approval on Dec. 6 was, more or less, a formality with most of the discussion and debate happening in legislative committee meetings throughout the fall.
In addition to trash collection changes, here are a few of the most notable priorities in this year’s agenda:
Increase state support for education
Jointly with Fairfax County Public Schools, the county wants the state to better address the differences between “high cost-of-living jurisdictions like Fairfax County” and other Virginia localities when funding public education.
State education funding is based on complex formulas and varies from year to year. The county has long argued that the formulas don’t adequately account for its higher cost of living compared to other areas.
“Public education funding in the Commonwealth is enshrined in the Virginia Constitution as a joint responsibility of both state and local governments, so it is essential that the state fully and appropriately meet its Constitutional responsibility to adequately fund K-12 education,” the state legislative program says.
Also, both boards oppose “budget cuts that disproportionately target or affect Northern Virginia” and “policies which divert K-12 education funding away from local public schools and toward non-public options.”
Allow traffic safety measures
As crash fatalities mount, the county is advocating for General Assembly legislation that lets localities create and post signage requiring motorists to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
Legislation is also needed to clarify that counties can reduce speed limits below 25 miles per hour on state-maintained roads that lie in residential districts, according to the program. Without that authority, the county’s options for addressing speeding are limited.
Restore regional transportation project funding
The state diverted $102 million away from the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) in 2018 to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to cover Virginia’s share of Metro funding.
In the several years since, $63.5 million has been restored, but the NVTA is still looking for the remaining nearly $39 million to support road repairs, facility maintenance, and other transportation projects in Northern Virginia.
“This [money] will ensure that transportation projects continue to advance in Northern Virginia after decades of state underfunding,” Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw, who chairs the board’s legislative committee, said in his motion at the Dec. 6 meeting. Read More
A new survey of Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) students shows local teens have been facing a decline in mental health over the last few years.
The Fairfax County Youth Survey is an anonymous and voluntary survey of students in grades 6, 8, 10 and 12. The newest survey, compiled from the 2021 school year, involved the participation of 33,479 students. There was no survey during 2020, making this the first look at student health since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
The report said FCPS students were more depressed than at any other time in the past decade.
“In 2021, the rates of feeling persistent sadness or hopelessness among Fairfax County youth were highest in the past 10 years,” the report said.
FCPS is hardly alone in this: the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report earlier this year reporting poor mental health among teens and children nationwide. While Fairfax County’s figures are high, they’re still below the national average.
The report said that every measure of depression showed a marked increase over the past few years:
The greatest increase was observed in the percentage of students with persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Overall, almost two-fifths of the students in 8th, 10th, and 12th grade (38.1%) reported feeling so sad or hopeless for two or more weeks in a row in the past year that they stopped doing some usual activities. More than 41% (41.6%) of 12th grade students reported such feelings, as compared to 35.0% of 8th grade students. Overall, the percentage of students reporting this level of sadness was about 8 percentage points higher than in 2019 (29.9%), reaching the highest point in the past 10 years.
The report also found that female, Hispanic, and LGBTQ students as well as students from food-insecure homes were all more likely to experience depression.
Students also reported an increase in bullying at home from parents or other adults.
“One in four students (24.8%) reported having been bullied, taunted, ridiculed, or teased by a parent or other adult in their household in the past year,” the report said, “which increased from 22.9% in 2019, and is the highest in the past 6 years.”
Around 8% of students reported experiencing physical abuse at home.
Additional highlights from the report include:
- The rates of reporting persistent feelings of sadness/hopelessness, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts increased among Fairfax County youth this year, following the national trends.
- More than 38% of the students in 8th, 10th and 12th grade reported feeling so sad or hopeless for two or more weeks in a row in the past year that they stopped doing some usual activities (persistently sad or hopeless). Approximately 17% reported suicidal thoughts and 6% reported suicide attempts.
- Female students were more likely to express high stress, persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, consider attempting suicide and attempt suicide compared to male students.
- Students of Hispanic ethnicity and students of other/multiple races were most likely to express feelings of persistent sadness or hopelessness, consider suicide and attempt suicide.
- Students who identified themselves as transgender or gay/lesbian/bisexual reported higher rates of stress, feelings of sadness/hopelessness, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. The data shows that they also face greater challenges that can affect their mental health including emotional and physical abuse by a parent or adult, forced sexual intercourse and sexual harassment.
- Students who reported a lack of food in their home were more likely to report persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts than those from food-secure homes.
The full report is available online.
Photo via Christian Erfurt/Unsplash
McLean Police Shooting Not Justified, Family Says — The parents of Jasper Aaron Lynch, who was fatally shot four times by a Fairfax County police officer during a mental health crisis call on July 7, said in a statement that the police “could have, and should have, handled this far differently.” Their comments came after the county police department released footage of the encounter. [WTOP]
Bailey’s Crossroads Car Dealership to Expand — “The Radley Acura dealership on Columbia Pike near Route 7 in Bailey’s Crossroads will undergo a major expansion. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning application Aug. 2 by Radley Management LLC to build a three-level parking garage with 307 spaces and an enclosed customer service drop-off addition.” [Annandale Today]
New Metro Safety Issues Raised — “Metro needs to inspect, clean, and protect Metrorail station rooms that house equipment that detects when trains are on tracks and helps the system avoid crashes, the agency’s safety oversight body said in a report released Thursday. The report further said that Metro had failed to follow through on inspections after the issue was raised in March.” [DCist]
County Pension Fund Doubles Down on Crypto — “Fairfax County, Va.’s $6.8 billion pension fund, the Fairfax County Retirement Systems, has received approval to invest $70 million across two crypto yield farming funds…The $1.8 billion Fairfax County Police Officers Retirement System has made a series of crypto investments in the past alongside the Fairfax County Retirement Systems” [CoinDesk]
Funds for Water to Historic Hall Approved — “The Fairfax County Park Authority Board approved a Mastenbrook Grant request from the Great Falls Grange Foundation (GFGF) in the amount of $20,000 to help install a municipal-connected water line to service the Great Falls Grange…The overall vision for this site is to serve the community as a self-supporting gathering place, a location for classes and a place to hold special events.” [FCPA]
Decision on Maryland’s Beltway Toll Lanes Coming — “With the U.S. Department of Transportation poised to issue its decision on an ambitious Capital Beltway and I-270 toll lanes plan, Montgomery County’s top planner accused state highway officials of running roughshod over Maryland law,” echoing similar complaints leveled by McLean residents over Virginia’s 495 NEXT project. [Maryland Matters]
Poll: What Does “Alexandria” Mean to You? — “One of the very first stories on ALXnow discussed…the distinction between the City of Alexandria and the areas of Fairfax south of Cameron Run sometimes referred to as Alexandria. This past week, two businesses opening this month — a cannabis dispensary and a metal supermarket — identified themselves as ‘Alexandria’ branches of their respective chains despite the fact that both are opening in Fairfax.” [ALXnow]
It’s Friday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 91 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:15 am and sunset at 8:17 pm. [Weather.gov]