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Southern Virginia clinic combats mental illness

By Hollani Davis, hdavis@wdbj7.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:57:38 PM EST
Updated On: Nov 12 2013 07:39:55 PM EST

In an area where for sale and out of business signs are more common than not, there is a specific business in Southern Virginia that seems to be taking off. WDBJ7 Anchor Hollani Davis is here to tell us about it.

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -

Southern Virginia repeatedly tops the list for the highest unemployment in the state and now new stats show the area is depressed in more ways than one.

In communities like Martinsville where the population seems to be stagnate, mental health issues are not.

"The average person that suffers from a mental illness looks like myself," says Laverne Carr.


Carr is the program director for one of several community based clinics that service the mentally ill. Many of her clients suffer from schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and depression.

"It was getting to the point that I wanted to be here to see the rest of my grandchildren get born," says Stacey Giles, a client at Trinity, a community  clinic in Martinsville.

Giles always knew depression was one of her struggles. But now at 42 and virtually a hermit, she's ready to admit there could be more.

"When my children were younger I wouldn't go to the doctor because I knew that I was sick enough for my children to be taken from me and I couldn't imagine that," says Giles.

She is not alone. The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health estimates nearly 341,000 thousand adults suffer from a serious mental illness and this number doesn't account for cases treated in the private sector. Take the major counties, cities and surrounding areas in Southern Virginia and the state estimates the mental health population tops more than 8,000.

"It's a depressed economy and as people lose homes and jobs the depression gets worse," says Carla Yopp.

Yopp owns Trinity. Once clients are professionally diagnosed it is her staff that makes house calls and helps with medication management, budgeting and other life skills. She doesn't see business slowing down for her until it starts to pick up for everyone else.

Trinity is hosting an open house on Thursday, November 14th. All are welcome. It will be from 5pm-7pm at the clinic on 32 Bridge Street.