Rotary Club plans mental health expo at Smithfield Center

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, April 20, 2024

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Smithfield’s Rotary Club will host its first-ever “Vibrant Emotional Health Expo” at the Smithfield Center on May 13.

The intent is to connect Isle of Wight County residents with mental health providers and aid organizations in furtherance of Rotary International’s 2024 theme of “creating hope.”

The free event, scheduled for 6-8 p.m. at the Smithfield Center, will focus on five core areas: happiness over depression, joy over grief, strength over pain, stability over financial stress and freedom over addiction.

At least 45 organizations have confirmed they will participate, and the list is growing.

“Another one called today to be involved,” said Rotary Club President Joseph Johnson, who’s coordinating the event.

According to the Rotary Club’s website, the list currently includes Alcoholics Anonymous, the Isle of Wight County Christian Outreach Program, Healing Waters Worship Center in Carrollton, the Western Tidewater Free Clinic and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. A full list is available at

“Hopefully we get a good crowd,” Johnson said.

“Everyone has someone in their life who is impacted by a mental health disorder or is facing such a challenge themselves,” states a 2023 White House report on mental health. “It is the high school student whose anxiety is so debilitating they can’t focus in class. Or the new parent who is struggling to rebalance their post-partum life with a baby and returning to work. Or the children whose father has been on and off treatment for schizophrenia and who struggles to maintain housing and a job.  Each problem exacerbates another. Our nation is facing a mental health crisis among people of all ages, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made these problems worse.”

According to a nationwide 2024 county-by-county health ranking by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute, Isle of Wight County adults in 2021 reported five poor mental health days out of the past 30, a rate that’s on par with the state and national average.

The report found Isle of Wight to be well below the state’s one-in-410 ratio of mental health practitioners to residents, at one in 1,910.