A recent promo video in association with Mental Health Awareness Month on WTKR News3, WGNT27, and Antenna WGNT02.
CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Getting help to people with mental illnesses is not always easy. That’s why the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services is rolling out a new plan to reduce the time it takes for people to get treatment.
In Hampton Roads, that program just began in Chesapeake. The idea is that no matter the health problem, people get treatment when they need it.
Beau Kirkwood has turned pain into passion. “We lost my brother to bipolar disorder and also schizoaffective disorder when he was about 32,” Kirkwood said. He’s now the executive director of The CHAS Foundation, which aims to help people and their families find appropriate treatment for mental health problems.
“We really went through nearly every barrier of treatment that an individual or family could go through,” Kirkwood said.
Those barriers are what people at Chesapeake Integrated Behavioral Healthcare (CIBH) are working to remove.
“People who have behavioral health care needs need to be seen whenever motivation is high and whenever they want services,” said Joe Scislowicz, executive director of the CIBH.
This month, the CIBH launched same day access, with funding from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.
Scislowicz said, “Especially for acute behavioral health difficulties or substance abuse problems, when they seek services, you should be there for them.”
People can now walk-in, get an assessment, and then begin treatment — avoiding wait times and cancelled appointments. “Typically if you delay a person’s appointment by even 48 hours, you’re going to lose 50 percent of the people,” said Scislowicz.
Scislowicz says it’s been steady since they launched the program January 3. The CIBH is currently the only Community Service Board in Hampton Roads that has this funding, but that’s supposed to change in the next few years, giving all CSB’s this same day program.
It’s a change Kirkwood says is welcome, especially for people like his brother.
“When someone needs care and they’re willing to receive that treatment, it gets so frustrating when you can’t get that treatment in a timely manner,” said Kirkwood. “It’s absolutely needed.”
In Norfolk, officials say they started a pilot program for same day access in fall 2017. That program is currently open Monday – Thursday from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. at 3755 E. Virginia Beach Boulevard. People can call their main number at 757-823-1600. Anyone with a crisis can call the 24-hour crisis line at 757-664-7690.
Norfolk also offers The Governor’s Access Plan (GAP) which can help adults with mental illness who have no insurance and very low or no income.
BEAU KIRKWOOD, executive director of The Chas Foundation, was presented an award by the city of Norfolk and the Norfolk Police Department for his dedication as a trainer in the department’s Crisis Intervention Team program. The CIT training was started in October 2014 to improve the way Norfolk law enforcement responds to calls from people experiencing mental health crisis and their families. The Chas Foundation, a nonprofit, provides resources for the mentally ill and their families. “We are very pleased that Beau is highly accomplished in sharing [specialized communication] techniques with the Norfolk officers,” said Tucker Corprew, president of The Chas Foundation. She is Beau’s mother and also the mother of Chas Kirkwood, who committed suicide in November 2011.
A LITTLE HISTORY
“I’m from Norfolk, graduated from Maury High School in ’99 and continued my education at Colorado State University. I received a bachelor of science in natural resource management and proceeded to go into accounting work. I worked at an accounting firm for three to four years.”
COPING WITH A MENTALLY ILL BROTHER
“It was at that time that my brother, who was bipolar and had schizophrenia, was just getting worse and worse each year. I ended up moving back from Colorado to help with him toward the end of his life. We encountered a lot of issues with trying to find assistance and support for people going through a mental health crisis. There just wasn’t anywhere to turn. That’s when we decided to start the foundation to assist those suffering from mental illness and their families, too. We started this foundation to identify some of the major gaps that existed in the mental health world.”
DRAWN TO NONPROFIT
“I’ve always been in the business of helping people. I’ve just always had that desire, but I just hadn’t yet found my calling or a reason to go into nonprofit. But seeing what happened with my brother and going through everything we felt we could do for him was absolutely heartbreaking. That’s where my true desire to help people who had to go through what he and my family did really started.
“I haven’t been educated in the field of mental health. I haven’t studied at the top medical schools, but what I have done is lived it for 25 years in dealing with my brother and now trying to help others. That knowledge and experience is what helps me assist and provide relief to those who are suffering. I feel like our organization can speak up for those who are mentally ill and actually help our community grow stronger and be healthier.”
HIS ROLE IN THE ORGANIZATION
“What I do with the organization is pretty much everything: all the office work, the database work, fundraising, event planning, all the marketing and advertising, I’m the CIT instructor. I could keep going.
“I feel like I was prepared for my current position through my schooling in Colorado. The program I took was set up as if you own a small business. I’ve always tried to be kind and respectful to people, and I hope that I receive that back from people. That combined with being in business really gave me the tools to start this nonprofit. Having experience in bookkeeping, accounting, office work and Microsoft prepared me to have the business side taken care of while I go out and actually connect with people and really figure out how to provide relief and make someone’s life better.”
“I think the biggest challenge is that this has never been done before. There are not many organizations out there that are doing what we are, and that’s because there’s just been uncertainty on how to treat people suffering. We’re at a point as a society that we’ve got to start addressing this and putting all the people that are pieces of this mental health field together. I just don’t think we’ve been addressing mental health as much as we should be and need to. Mental health is so crucial to our whole well-being as a community.”
“My greatest pleasure is being able to provide support and assistance to those who haven’t been able to find that anywhere else.”
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
“I see us continually growing and filling some of the gaps like working on legislation with [State Sen.] Creigh Deeds and trying to get some laws passed. I think setting up programs will be really key for us. When you have these illnesses and there is no protocol or plan to treat them, then it really is crucial to figure out programs or services to make their lives better in that family.
“We’re trying to get these programs in place but at the same time draw awareness to mental illness and help eliminate the stigma surrounding it. We have to let people know that it’s OK to talk about it and it’s OK for their loved ones to be sick. It’s a huge barrier for those who go through it. It’s about what’s going to help better our lives and community.”
WHEN I HAVE SPARE TIME
“I’ve always been an outdoors person. That includes hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding, fishing and especially surfing. I do my best to make sure that I stay mentally healthy because obviously that is critical for me when I’m helping people deal with these difficulties. With this organization, I find that I’m pretty much working all the time and I get to surf occasionally. I’m getting married next month and just trying to maintain a simple life. I also love spending time with my family and friends. After going through the tragedy that I endured, quality time with loved ones is extremely important to me.”
Thornton, B. (2015, July 17). “FIRST PERSON: Beau Kirkwood.”
Originally published at: http://insidebiz.com/news/first-person-beau-kirkwood
The Chas Foundation is a Norfolk-based nonprofit dedicated to helping those with mental illness and working to dissolve its stigma by offering resources for the mentally ill and their families.
Tucker Corprew, founder of the organization, suffered the loss of her middle son, Chas Kirkwood, who hanged himself on Nov. 14, 2011, at age 34. According to the foundation’s website, “An estimated 30,000 people, many like Chas – a husband, an accomplished chef, skier extraordinaire, and ‘a guy everyone liked’ – commit suicide annually, driven by the throes of depression, bipolarism, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.”
“Unless there is more funding for hospital beds, long-term treatment and easier access to psychiatric help during a crisis (not warehousing in the ER, where there is no treatment), mental illness will continue to rise, and more people will take their lives,” said Corprew, longtime owner of two Norfolk consignment businesses and a board member of the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Corprew and her youngest son, Beau Kirkwood, executive director of The Chas Foundation, train law enforcement officers in how to identify and assist individuals with mental illness as part of crisis intervention teams. (See related story, Page 24.)
According to Mental Health America federal data, Virginia ranks No. 9 in the need for mental health services. Those suffering from mental illnesses are sent to jails rather than psychiatric hospitals, and when released, they’re just as ill if not more so than when they entered. The CIT program is a jail diversion effort that attempts to find medical help for those affected.
“The CIT program came about because we had to call the police on numerous occasions, and there were numerous times when we’d have liked to call the police, but we didn’t want our loved one to be taken to jail. We knew implementing this in Norfolk was critical,” Kirkwood said. “Norfolk has done an excellent job of training their staff; we’ve gotten more officers trained quicker than anywhere else in the country.”
Training at the Norfolk Police Department means one 40-hour week of intense training that educates officers on topics such as what mental illness looks like, side effects of drugs and finding resources for the affected families.
“The first half of the class is all educational. We have people from the CSB (Community Services Board) come and discuss adolescent mental illness, geriatric mental illness, focusing on the family community aspect of that,” Kirkwood said.
Kirkwood then relates his personal story to the police and explains the difficulties the family faces in these situations – 50 percent of people with bipolar and 40 percent of people with schizophrenia have anosognosia, which means they don’t realize they’re sick, making it harder for families to get them treated.
The Chas Foundation is in the process of creating an online resource guide for families and those suffering to be able to turn to.
Kirkwood also hopes to work with State Sen. Creigh Deeds and his mental health task force to create legislation regarding mental illness.
“The Chas Foundation is also committed to increasing community awareness that mental illness is a genetic disorder, not a character flaw,” Corprew said.
Thornton, B. (2015, July 17). “Chas Foundation offers mental illness advocacy, support.”
Originally published at: http://insidebiz.com/news/chas-foundation-offers-mental-illness-advocacy-support