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Henrico County’s Area Mental Health and Developmental Services Celebrates 50 Years

Henrico County Area Mental Health and Developmental Services East Center
Henrico County Area Mental Health and Developmental Services East Center. (Photo: Charles Fishburne)

Henrico County’s Area Mental Health and Developmental Services celebrated 50 years Monday, and as Charles  Fishburne reports, they have made life better for thousands of people every year.


About ten thousand to be exact.  Laura Totty is Executive Director:

We provide really a range of services for individuals who have a serious mental illness, mental health needs, substance use, developmental disabilities and developmental delays.

She says 50 years ago, many of those people would have been in institutions, but all that has changed.

There are lots of reasons that have developed.  There is medicine, there are services, more progressive thinking that folks are able to come out in the community and live in the community and be able to survive and recover.

They helped Rauna O’Berry find a job and a place to live.

O’Berry:  Uh huh, a job Monday through Friday.  And I live in a Group Home. 

Fishburne:  So you are independent?

O’Berry:  Uh huh. 

Fishburne:  And you like that?

O’Berry:  Yes, I do.

Karen Metz was a school teacher, who suffered from depression so severe she had to stop work.

Metz:  I was a teacher and I had suffered with mental illness for many years.  Had many psychiatric hospitalizations and went through shock treatment.  Went the gamut of treatment.  And finally about five years ago I just couldn’t…I couldn’t work anymore.  And there I was with a home, a car, bills.  The whole bit, you know, with limited to no income.  And then after two years, I lost my long-term disability because it is only good for two years for psychiatric illness.

Fishburne: And you came here?

Metz:  And I came here because I didn’t know where else to go and somebody said contact them.

Fishburne:  What did you find here that changed your life, literally?

Metz:  Oh.  Oh, hope!  You  know, medication management.  A doctor.  Psychiatric services.  Case management.  Therapists. Therapists who saw me more than once a week if I needed it.

Fishburne:  You sound like a new person.

Metz:  I am.  I am and I am able to give back by serving on the board.

Karen Metz is a board member and she says she wants to help others, simply by sharing her story and by promoting the services that help so many in Henrico, New Kent and Charles City Counties.

Laura Totty:  It is being inclusive of all folks and helping people to be safe and live in the community, to be able to recover and to be able to be as self-sufficient as they possibly can.

The ceremonies were at the county’s newest facility on Nine Mile Road, which offers walk-in services five days a week and emergency services 24-7.   Charles Fishburne, VPM News.


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