The CMHWC (Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition) is a group of over 20 different safety net organizations with a mission of collaborating to promote behavioral health and wellness through advocacy, planning, and access to effective service delivery. Coalition partners, including criminal justice officials, the Thomas Jefferson Health District, UVA and Sentara Health Systems, and other community-based organizations are joining Region Ten in regional planning to adopt a systems approach to the local epidemic.

Rebecca Kendall, Coalition Director and Development Analyst at Region 10, has been with the Coalition for two years. Her role entails engaging local organizations and providers to work together to promote behavioral health and wellness through planning and advocacy.

“Right now, two of our biggest focus areas are addressing the opioid crisis and developing a disaster mental health corps and strengthen our mental health support after the white supremacist violence on August 12th,” says Kendall.

Her efforts to combat the opioid crisis are inspired by personal and professional experience.

Rebecca Kendall, Coalition Director and Development Analyst at Region 10

“I personally know people who have been impacted by opioid addiction, and understand how devastating and difficult to overcome it can be,” says Kendall. “I am motivated to address the crisis because it is a growing national need. Because the crisis has emerged so quickly, it almost leaves a trail of breadcrumbs to show us clearly how to prevent and treat it.”

The Coalition’s approach recognizes that a community-wide system view of the many moving facets of the opioid crisis, rather than individual and disconnected efforts, will have a greater impact. The Coalition works with partners to convene bi-monthly stakeholder meetings to better connect organizations and efforts to one another and to work together on priority issues. Much has been changing in the local landscape related to opioids and the Coalition helps organizations work smarter together.

Important recent developments include:

  • Treatment expansion at Region Ten, including medication assisted treatment and new residential substance use treatment facilities
  • Overdose reversal training with free Naloxone distribution offered by jointly by Region Ten and the Thomas Jefferson Health District
  • New drug disposal boxes offered at UVA Pharmacy, Sentara Martha Jefferson Pharmacy, and Greene, Louisa, and Fluvanna County Sheriffs
  • Over 5,000 prescription drug safety cards distributed to over 17 local pharmacies

James R. Peterson Building, Region 10 Charlottesville

The Coalition is also spearheading the Help Happens Here Campaign, a public awareness and stigma reduction campaign to improve mental health and wellness services across our region.

Opioid abuse prevention starts at home.

“Be responsible for what you have in your own medicine cabinet,” advises Kendall.  “Many people who misuse prescription opioids have gotten them from a social source, like a friend or relative, who has unused medication in their medicine cabinet.”

Within the community, Kendall suggests, “Be active within your sphere of influence. If you know someone personally who has been impacted by opioids, you can get trained in overdose reversal, or you can find places to share your story.  If you are connected to sports leagues, help people learn about the risks of misusing prescription medication due to sports medicine.”

Most importantly, know that you are not alone. “Don’t reinvent the wheel; there is so much information and activities happening in the community. Find out about local efforts and link up where you can.”

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