Mental health is focus of effort

Posted: July 9, 2014

The Winchester Star

Wayne Drash

Winchester — The United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley will present its newest findings on community needs and health on July 25 with help from an award-winning journalist.

The event is scheduled from 8:30 to 11 a.m. in the Stimpson Auditorium at Shenandoah University’s Harry F. Byrd Jr. School of Business. Cost is $10 per person to cover food and materials.

This United Way Community Impact Forum will feature the results of a “community needs update” conducted by the group, with presentations by different members of the organization. It will also feature keynote speaker Wayne Drash, a CNN.com writer and leader in mental health journalism.

The findings of the study, which primarily touch on mental health, will be outlined by John Milam, Lord Fairfax Community College director of planning and institutional effectiveness.

A presentation by United Way volunteer and author Diana Ketterman is also planned, which will elaborate on the work done by the group to meet the objectives of their mental health plan.

She will introduce Drash, who is leading a presentation and discussion titled “The Challenges of Mental Illness.” He has won numerous awards, including a Peabody and an Emmy, along with currently being a candidate for the Rosalynn Carter Journalism Fellowship for Mental Health.

“We feel that his presentation is both timely and needed,” said Joe Shtulman, president and chief professional officer of United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley.

A similar event is held every three years, where according to Shtulman, they center on a topic that is relevant to the people in this area.

“We do these studies to set priorities on how we need to help the community over a three-year period,” Shtulman said.

The idea began back in 2003, when during a board retreat, the group decided to become a “Community Impact United Way.”

The organization has been doing the triennial study ever since.

According to Shtulman, it does this by looking in-depth at census information, trends associated with demographic changes and numerous other research materials.

Members then put it all together in a report of findings that include charts, statistics and comparisons, which is what will be presented at the forum.

The focuses from 2010-13 were education, income and health, and the study was integral for them.

“This is a very important tool for United Way. We use it to help direct where the resources go,” Shtulman said. “It’s used by local nonprofit organizations to help guide them in areas deemed to be important human-care issues.”

The most recent update for 2014-2017 was made with help by past chairman of community impact and Lord Fairfax Community College President Cheryl Thompson-Stacy, and has a mental health focus.

“We hope it will provide mental health agencies with guidance to help them establish the support needed by families, and to target their resources on the needs that are identified as high priority,” Shtulman said.

Those interested in attending the event should contact the United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley at 540-536-1610 or uway@visuallink.com.

— Contact Corey Tierney at ctierney@winchesterstar.com