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Lynchburg healthcare workers help people deal with emotional toll of the pandemic

Horizon Behavioral Health is passing out 2,000 care packages filled with resources

Health experts in Lynchburg are checking in with community members struggling from the emotional toll of the pandemic.
Health experts in Lynchburg are checking in with community members struggling from the emotional toll of the pandemic.

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Nanci Dodson is a community health worker with Horizon Behavioral Health and part of a team going door to door in Lynchburg, reaching out to underserved communities during the pandemic.

“We can all say what a hard year it’s been, but I think for some people in different circumstances, it’s hit a lot harder,” said Dodson.

Georgia Robinson was one resident who received a wellness check Tuesday. She says she feels closed off since a car hit and killed her 23-year-old daughter last November. One man was charged was a DUI.

Robinson’s now caring for her granddaughters, ages five and three.

“I’m raising two little girls now. I don’t know how to deal with the grief of my daughter. I’m trying. These little girls grieve their mommy. So, it does mean a lot to me to know that there’s help out there for me,” said Robinson.

That help comes from the health experts passing out care packages with information on mental health, counseling, housing, and employment.

Medication lockboxes are available for those struggling with substance abuse.

“We can’t really get to the root of issues if we’re not talking about why they’re starting in the first place,” said Dodson.

Horizon Behavioral Health says only half of Americans access services.

“Here in the Commonwealth, we saw a 300% increase in online alcohol sales, about 30% of adults are reporting experiencing trauma-related symptoms, and about 11% have experienced suicidal thoughts,” said Damien Cabezas, the chief executive officer of Horizon Behavioral Health.

The organization received about $100,000 in federal stimulus money to help with prevention, and they’ve handed out 400 bags since they started on August 26th.

Leaders say their goal was to pass out 1,000 care packages within four weeks; but they’ve received such a great response, they’re doubling their goal to 2,000 care packages through September.

“We’re just trying to give them an alternative and let them know that people are there for them,” said Dodson.

If you need help, you can call Horizon Behavioral Health at 434-455-5000.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.