Having served over 20,000 individuals since opening its doors, The Women’s Initiative has become the second largest provider of mental health treatment to low-income, uninsured women and the number one service for low-income mothers. It is often the only mental health resource available to Latina and African American women. We provided services to 862 women during our first year of service. Last year we provided services to 3,774 women. This is a 438% increase over the course of ten years.
The Women’s Initiative is affordable. It offers a low sliding scale fee, and no one is turned away because of inability to pay. It is accessible. It provides free walk in clinics, satellite offices, childcare and multilingual treatment to ensure that all women can access care. As there are very few diverse mental health professionals in Central Virginia, The Women’s Initiative is often the primary resource for culturally competent mental health care. It is a community leader in providing care for immigrant and refugee women. Since its inception, it has recognized the need for Spanish speaking therapists and has become known as a safe place for Latina women and their families. Social support groups include a knitting group, yoga for women of color, and an Afghan women’s tea group. It works in partnership with numerous other agencies such as The Shelter for Help in Emergency, the Charlottesville Free Clinic, the International Rescue Service, and Readykids to address gaps in services and to ensure that there is no duplication of services.
Women do get better at The Women’s Initiative. Outcome measurements show that over 80% of clients see improvement – higher than national trends.
Adequate mental health treatment is essential to improving the lives of women in our community. Without sound mental health women are handicapped, often severely, in all aspects of life. This not only affects them, but also their families, their children, and their communities, and it often prevents them from being able to support themselves financially. I hope that the community continues to embrace and support The Women’s Initiative and other organizations that are providing critical mental health care.