Free Mental Health Counseling Available to Food and Beverage Workers Across Virginia

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Food and beverage workers in Virginia and Washington, D.C. will soon have access to free counseling to resolve their problems. Mental Health.

THE Behind You Mental Health Program is launched thanks to a partnership with the Southern Smoke Foundation And George Washington University.

SSF awards grant to GWU Meltzer Center for Psychological and Community Services and member clinics to provide mental health counseling.

Food and beverage workers can qualify through the SSF website.

Guidance will be provided by student clinicians under the supervision of approved clinical supervisors and the academic program director.

Telehealth will also be available for workers with busy schedules or living in rural areas.

“We are excited to begin a partnership with the Southern Smoke Foundation for their Behind You program,” said Risa Broudy, Ph.D., director of the Meltzer Center at George Washington University. “This program will help bring free, evidence-based, culturally informed mental health services to a population in great need: food and beverage industry workers in the District and across Virginia, while providing Our clinical students graduate with valuable training opportunities in working with underserved members of our local community.

SSF has been serving Virginia’s food and beverage community through its Emergency Relief Fund program since 2017 and has distributed nearly $100,000 in grants to help workers emerge from the crisis.

Since the launch of Behind You in 2020, SSF has provided free access to more than 5,100 counseling sessions. In partnership with George Washington University, the Southern Smoke Foundation is expected to provide access to more than 500 free counseling sessions to food and beverage workers.

To raise awareness and funds to support Behind You, SSF launched a One Million for Mental Health Campaign on May 1, in tandem with Mental Health Awareness Month. It will cost SSF approximately $1 million per year to support programs in California, Illinois, Louisiana, New York and Texas, as well as to expand to Maine, Massachusetts, Carolina South, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington DC this summer. This national campaign will directly support the continued growth of the program with the goal of raising $1 million by the end of the year.

RVA hotel industry CEO Liz Kincaid and her team are supporting SSF and supporting the Million for Mental Health campaign by donating a portion of Memorial Day proceeds from Tarrant’s West located in downtown Richmond.

“The mental health crisis in America is real. This hits our most vulnerable populations and food service workers face unique challenges, such as working on their feet for long hours with the public or in hot kitchens, working evenings, weekends and holidays. When others are with family, we are at work serving those families. Kincaid said.

“That’s what we love to do: make people happy, but who makes us happy? Many people do not have the financial ability to see a therapist or talk about our particular problems.

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If you or someone you know needs help now, call or text 988 or chat at
For local mental health resources, visit AFP’s Mental Health Project page.