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Alumna’s agency providing needed mental health care during COVID-19 crisis

Alumna Glenda Benion is gearing up to provide even more help to those with mental health needs in Hampton Roads.

“The current COVID-19 crisis is certainly going to have an impact on the mental health of many in our community, and we are preparing for an uptick in service needs once the Commonwealth reopens,” she said.

Benion graduated from Tidewater Community College with a Human Services associate degree in 2015. Today she co-owns and manages TALK Family of Virginia, an agency providing mental health services for children, teens and adults in Hampton Roads.

“A lot of people are not going to come out of this on the good side as they are going through a job loss and weeks of lost income. Many are unsure of the future and in pretty dire straits.  All of this can impact mental health a great deal,” she said.

Opened for a decade, the family-run business employs 23 counselors who help with mental health skill-building, medication management, financial planning and personal hygiene support.

All appointments are virtual right now.

Benion said much of the work these days is helping clients with basic needs by referring them to other agencies in the region.

“It’s been tough not being able to be one-on-one with our clients providing the usual services that sometimes include intensive in-home care,” she said. “I continue to be grateful to our staff that gives so much of themselves to help others.”

Benion came to TCC for the Human Services program, which is designed to provide the education necessary for career advancement in human and social services. Students are trained in observation, intake and interviewing, implementing treatment plans, problem-solving, crisis intervention, case management and referral procedures. Internships are among the requirements. Ivory Warren is program head.

“I want to give a shout-out to Ivory Warren,” Benion said. “She was the best professor and certainly prepared me well for the work I’m doing.

 “The more I work with people, the more I see that mental illnesses are real and can be very challenging for families.”

Benion works with her husband, Ronald, a silent partner in the TALK Family venture, and Kevin Walton, her son-in-law, who serves as executive director. Her daughter, Andrea Walton,  is the program coordinator.