Youth therapy program expands to more schools in Richmond

Updated: Oct. 9, 2020 at 5:14 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - More students in Richmond will have access to mental health care, as ChildSavers expands its services to three more schools in the city.

Four years ago, the youth therapy nonprofit launched in-school treatment at three schools in the city. Today, that number has more than tripled to ten schools.

“When you think about therapy for the children that we serve, primarily those children have been treated with pharmaceuticals. You have ‘ADHD’, for example, you have a pharmaceutical for that. Our work is really focused around, ‘how do we support children through the therapeutic process that primarily has been available to communities and children from more affluent families?’" said ChildSavers CEO, L. Robert Bolling.

Thomas C. Boushall Middle, George W. Carver Elementary and J.H. Blackwell Elementary are now part of the lineup, opening the doors for thousands of kids around Richmond who may find it hard to deal with everything going on in their lives.

“Many of the kids that we see have experienced sexual assault, they’ve had parents incarcerated, they’ve had substance abuse in the home, and they’ve seen domestic violence in those homes,” said Bolling of the current patients.

About 700 young people from the city are in the nonprofit’s mental health care programs per year. About 15,000 more are served in their child development services program annually.

He says of the hundreds of kids who do receive therapy in their program, roughly 90% are Black. Experts say of every three African-Americans who are in need of mental health care, only one is actually receiving it.

Richmond Public Schools superintendent Jason Kamras said in a statement that they “see positive results in academics and social well-being in our schools with therapists.”

In addition, the partnership not only benefits the students, as he adds that therapists are also “serving as valuable resources for teachers and staff by helping them navigate challenging situations.”

“Trauma can be debilitating, but what we know is if you get treatment, and you get that treatment early, children have this amazing capacity to be resilient," Bolling added.

He does hope to eventually expand the program to other schools in the district.

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