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Foundation helps Northern Virginians access mental health resources – NBC4 Washington

In his head, Robert Johnson said he could sense something was wrong, but he didn’t know how to fix it.

“I felt…like I was less than. I felt broken,” Johnson told News4.

Johnson was hearing sounds that weren’t there. The shadows would move. Then, the weight of his depression came down hard.

“I went through a lot of different emotions. I had suicidal thoughts. A lot of times I felt like giving up,” he said.

A growing number of Northern Virginians are experiencing these feelings.

An estimated 545,000 adults in Northern Virginia, 28%, experienced symptoms of clinical anxiety or depression in the fall of 2021, according to a survey by Insight Region, The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s Center of Community Research.

This is a sharp increase from the pre-pandemic period. In 2019, about 8% of Northern Virginians reported mental health issues.

“When people go for help, they’re faced with a system that’s at capacity or beyond,” said Eileen Ellsworth of the Community Foundation For Northern Virginia.

The group raises funds to support organizations that aim to ease the burden on the system. One such organization is the Trillium Center in Woodbridge.

“We’re modeling what it’s like to have healthy interpersonal relationships, healthy dynamics with other human beings,” said Risa Silver of the Trillium Center. “So people know what it’s like to have these health experiences and to be able to set boundaries in the outside world – to be able to be self-reliant.”

Johnson said it saved his life when he came to Trillium nine years ago. It all started with a game of pool.

Playing pool with others struggling with their own mental health issues – he was no longer alone.

“And that’s when it all came together – ‘Hey, you know what, I have a purpose here. “”

Three weeks later, Trillium gave him a job.

The Community Foundation For Northern Virginia will host its annual Shape of the Region conference on Tuesday to address the need for additional mental health resources.

News4’s Drew Wilder is the event host for the upcoming Community Foundation conference.