Who We Are

Mentally Healthy Norfolk is a coalition of leaders representing public health, nonprofit, government, education, and faith communities in our city.  Mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and other mental health challenges are at crisis levels.  Working together in hope, dialogue, and action, we are striving to address these concerns by reducing stigma, encouraging conversation, and pointing people to help.


The coalition was launched in October 2017 with Talk About It Norfolk, an initiative designed to foster a city-wide dialogue and bring conversations about mental health out of the shadows of stigma and into the public square.  Award-winning videos by Sway Creative Labs highlighted the voices of local leaders sharing their own stories.  Through a series of workshops, we trained faith leaders, bartenders, hair stylists, and other community members how to respond to those in need of support.

In 2019, we began designing the next phase of the Talk About It campaign, which will feature a collaboration with local businesses, faith communities, schools, and other organizations.  Launching in early 2020 with a pilot program in the Ghent neighborhood and business district, this conversation will move into the lobbies, shops, bars and board rooms throughout our community.

Participating businesses and organizations will commit to displaying comprehensive, pocket-sized mental health resource cards developed by the coalition, and to offering simple online training to employees in order to multiply exponentially the amount of mental health awareness and compassion in our community.

Mentally Healthy Norfolk Coalition Partners

M. Foscue Brock Institute for Community and Global Health, Eastern Virginia Medical School

Norfolk Department of Public Health

Public Health Department, Eastern Virginia Medical School

Partnerships for Success, Norfolk Prevention Coalition

Psychiatry and Behavioral Services, Eastern Virginia Medical School

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

The Chas Foundation

The Sarah Michelle Peterson Foundation

The Up Center

In collaboration with elected representatives of the Norfolk City Council and Norfolk School Board, educators in the Departments of Psychology and Counseling and Human Services at Old Dominion University, and representatives from the Mental Health Departments of Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters and the Virginia Department of Health.

With the support of Mayor Kenny Alexander, who issued the following proclamation in October 2019:  link here.

Why Do This?

The Facts

Fact #1Norfolk lost 24 citizens to suicide in 2015

Source: VDH, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, May 2017

Fact #2An estimated 600 Norfolk citizens attempted suicide in 2015

Source: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/

Fact #320% of Norfolk’s suicide deaths were under the age of 24

Source: VDH, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, May 2017

Fact #41 in 4 Norfolk teens reported depression routinely hindering their everyday activities

The Virginia Atlas of Community Health, http://atlasva.org/data/

Fact #511.7% of Norfolk citizens report feeling “frequent mental distress”

Source: County Health Rankings, http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/

Fact #615.2% of Coastal Virginia High Schoolers have contemplated suicide

Fact #7Military veterans are 21% more likely to take their own lives

Source: Department of Veterans Affairs

Fact #8Firearms are used in 57.2% of Virginia suicides

Source: VDH, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, May 2017