Spotlight: Friends of Loudoun Mental Health

Patch is profiling local nonprofit agencies working hard for our community.

Throughout this holiday season, Leesburg Patch will be  profiling local nonprofits. Do you have a suggestion? Email erica.hendry  at patch.com

Mission: Friends of Loudoun Mental Health are mental health advocates who, through Friends' initiatives, provide material assistance to Loudoun residents experiencing disabling mental illnesses; speak out as activists to help end discrimination and sponsor educational programs to make the community aware of mental health issues.

Contact Information: 8 South Street, SW Leesburg, VA 20175 703-443-1380 Loudounfriends.org

Financials: Friends of Loudoun Mental Health is an all-volunteer organization.  Almost 100 percent of the money raised goes to their programs.  Their annual fundraiser is the Miles for Mental Health 10K; the next one will be held October 5, 2013.  It is run on a USATF certified course at Franklin Park in Purcellville.  The organization also receives support through annual giving campaigns which are done throughout the year.

History: Friends of Loudoun Mental Health was organized in 1955.  The 16-member board and about four additional volunteers run the organization to support people who are seeking help and treatment for mental illness in Loudoun County.  

There are three components to their program:

1) A Place to Call Home, which supports seriously mentally ill patients who are being treated by the Loudoun County Department of Mental Health Substance Abuse and Developmental Services.  The Friends provides a rental subsidy so that patients can live independently and not on the streets. They also work behind the scenes for people who have a plan for recovery so they can maintain stability and a roof over their heads.

2) A Helping Hand, assists with rent deposit funds or utilities to get set up.  This is a one-time type of assistance to help with a specific situation.

3) Representative Payee. Friends helps handle financial matters for the people who are  not able to take care of their own financial matters. This ensures they are able to receive the social services checks and other assistance that they need to live.

How you can help: One way to help is to contribute financially by participating in the 10K race or the annual giving campaign. 

“We need to improve the mental health system, the worst thing you can do is to cut the programs.  It is important to help people understand what mental illness is about and what the warning signs are.  Encourage people to get help and break the stigma,” said Stephanie Foran, President of Friends of Loudoun Mental Health.

"Mental illness is a disease of the brain and people need to seek treatment as they would for any other ailment.  Education is the key.  One in four people have mental illness, it is part of our culture,” Foran added.

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