Local church and mental health professionals give resources to residents for mental health awareness month

Andara Puchino

AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- Each year approximately 8 million people die due to struggles with mental illness. Music star Naomi Judd was outspoken about her battle with mental illness—and often spoke about signs family’s should look out for if a loved one is having a hard time with depression and anxiety.

“You’ll notice things like they’re isolating they’re withdrawing from supports their behaviors might be a little more irritable or even irrational they might have an increase in impulsivity they might be sleeping more than they normally do” said Celina Keys, executive director, Family Counseling Center of the CSRA.

“Emotions are not where they should be you’re not thinking psychologically the way that you should think or the way you used to think everything has become a blur you don’t interact with people and not only do you not interact with people you don’t want to be around people you then withdraw from society” Rev. Dr. Wanda Richardson, certified Christian counselor, Tabernacle Baptist Church.

Rev. Dr. Wanda Richardson, certified Christian counselor at Tabernacle Baptist Church says the rise in the number of deaths because of mental illness is one the reasons they’ve started providing resources to church members and attendees. One resource being a crisis hotline Augusta residents can call when struggling with issues that can provoke a depressive episode. (Text- HELPME to 706-995-7044).

“We have lost members in our church that are connected to our church to suicide we have lost members to covid we have had people to lose jobs and homes in all kinds of issues” said Dr. Richardson.

For the month of May they also started a series of events and teachings surrounding mental health.

She says they will host a counseling session where over 20 counselors and therapist come to help those who need it – as well as provide reassurance from their Christian brothers and sisters.

“So what we’re trying to share with our attendees that it is ok it is not a Christian it does not mean that you do not have faith or you have little faith” said Dr. Richardson

The executive director for the Family Counseling Center of the CSRA says a lot of times people will refuse to seek help because they may feel judged and criticized by family members.

“So having a family member friend demonstrate acceptance and awareness and understanding can help remove some of those barriers sometimes just a conversation and says I’m here to help and I know someone that you can go and talk to you in here is family counseling centers information or here’s the information for another agency that you could go to” said Keys.

She says over 60% of people who come to the center are considered poor and a persons financial status can be a barrier on them when seeking therapy because they can’t cover the cost – That’s why they take donations in order for people to get the help they need.

“Not all insurances cover mental health care Medicare does not cover mental health care and the grants and funding for mental health are still not accessible” said Keys.

For more information on the resources provided visit Tabernacle Baptist Church and Family Counseling Center of the CSRA


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