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Local agency looks at mental health accessibility

A Fredericksburg counseling agency wants to make it easier for area parents to find mental health care for their children.

Throughout the area, parents have found that such care can be very hard to find.

A patient could wait for one to four months, depending on insurance coverage, for mental health care, said Fredericksburg pediatrician Dr. Roxanne Allegretti.

The area lacks both psychiatrists and therapists who work with children.

But the Fredericksburg office of Catholic Charities hopes to fill part of that gap.

The office staff just launched the Mark 10 Project, which offers therapy for $5 per session to clients younger than 18 whose families earn less than $60,000 a year.

Named for the Bible verse that says that God’s kingdom belongs to the children, the project aims to vanquish two frequent obstacles to mental health care: time and money.

Psychologist Michael Horne and seven clinicians will set aside some therapy time for the project’s clients. Two of those therapists speak Spanish, eliminating another barrier to getting help.

And a grant from the Duff McDuff Green fund will subsidize treatment.

“These services will never meet 100 percent of the needs, but we want to make sure we’re addressing as much of the need as we can,” Horne said.

The initial grant is for $7,500, and Horne hopes to supplement that with more grants and private donations.

“I hope to positively impact as many lives as we can,” he said. “I hope to help people flourish.”

So far, the program is serving 15 children, but Horne knows that many more youth in the community need mental health services.

He hopes that the Mark 10 Project will help those families who might now be choosing to put food on the table instead of getting emotional help for their children.

And while the office is part of Catholic Charities, Horne said that clients of all faiths—and of no faith—are welcome.

“We always say that we serve people because we’re Catholic not because they’re Catholic,” Horne said.

WANT TO HELP? You can send donations designated for the Mark 10 Project to: Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, 1101 Stafford Ave., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401

NEED HELP? Call the office at 540/371-1124.


Psychologist Michael Horne suggested parents seek treatment for their children if they start to have trouble at school, show a dramatic change in behavior or have experienced a tragedy. Parents could also seek help if they want a different relationship with their children,

Amy Umble: 540/735-1973