Addiction & Mental Health Support During a Global Pandemic: Perspectives from Frontline Responders

Addiction & Mental Health Support During a Global Pandemic: Perspectives from Frontline Responders

Master Center for Addiction Medicine will host “Addiction & Mental Health Support During a Global Pandemic: Perspectives from Frontline Responders” on July 15th at 5:30 PM. The webinar will be moderated by Dan Jenkins of Master Center for Addiction Medicine via Zoom.

Panelist will include Dr. Andreas Bienert, Clinical Director, Master Center for Addiction Medicine; Doug Bevelaqua, Former Inspector General of Behavioral Health for the Commonwealth of Virginia; Mark Blackwell, Director of Recovery Services, Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services; Captain Robert Wershbale, Henrico County Police; and Karen Stanley, President & CEO, The Healing Place – Richmond VA and CARITAS.

Topic will include:

  • The unique challenges each organization has encountered since the onset of the pandemic.
  • How the approach to treatment and social interaction has changed in response to the pandemic.
  • The increased risk of relapse during the pandemic.
  • The increase in alcohol consumption since lockdown and its impact on the need for detox from alcohol abuse.
  • How local police departments have worked alongside other organizations to assist with challenging circumstances, from homelessness to addiction.
  • How the community can help.
  • Drug related and mental health related calls since the pandemic began.
  • Domestic conflict statistics that have included drugs and alcohol during the pandemic.
  • How law enforcement is responding when loved ones and users ask for help.
  • Statistics on overdoses over the past two months.
  • Drug and alcohol related arrests and other trends noted by law enforcement during the pandemic.

To attend, Dawn Choudhury at [email protected].


Mark Blackwell – CPRS, RPRS, ICPR, MSA: Over 20 years of experience in the behavioral healthcare field in leadership positions, including for profit and nonprofit sectors, representing providers and payors. Areas of specialization include business development, marketing, provider network development/relations, nonprofit leadership, and contracting (including managed care). Mark has become a leading advocate in mental health and addiction recovery, seeking to promote the use of individuals with lived experience and recovery oriented services as a pathway to health and wellness. Mark has a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University in Public Administration and an advanced graduate degree in Health Services and Masters in Administration from Central Michigan University. Mark currently serves as Director of Office of Recovery Services of Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, having served most recently as Director of Consumer and Family Affairs for Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board. Current responsibilities include promoting recovery oriented services throughout the continuum of care and developing the Peer Recovery Specialist and Family Support Partner Workforce throughout the Commonwealth.

Karen Stanley – CARITAS, President & CEO: Karen began the role of Executive Director for CARITAS in 2000 and took the organization from a 22-week winter-only emergency shelter to a year-round program including case management, a state-of-the-art daytime facility and aftercare services which include central Virginia’s only furniture bank, and a workforce development and life skills program called CARITAS Works that rolled out in 2011. CARITAS Works was developed to help men and women who have significant barriers to employment. Today, 90% are hired in less than 30 days after completion. In 2007, Karen took on the dual role as Executive Director for The Healing Place – Richmond VA, a 188-bed recovery program for men struggling with substance use disorders. She guided the efforts of The Healing Place and combined the organization with CARITAS in 2012, making CARITAS the largest homeless services organization in the metro Richmond area. After a successful $15M capital campaign, CARITAS will move into the new CARITAS Center this summer, which will include a 120-bed recovery program for women. She is a 2007 graduate of Leadership Metro Richmond, a recipient of the Stettinius Award for Non-Profit Leadership, United Way’s “Champion for Change,” a YWCA Outstanding Woman Award winner, the 2010 Better Housing Coalition’s “Creative Collaborator,” and was inducted in the Virginia First Lady’s FLITE Hall of Fame for Women in Business in 2012. She has served on the boards of Homeward, Leadership Metro Richmond, the Governor’s Advisory Board for Volunteerism and National Service, and currently serves on the Vestry of St. James’s Episcopal Church.

Doug Bevelacqua: For over 35 years, Doug has served on local, state, and national boards and commissions advocating for behavioral health and substance use disorder issues. Doug currently conducts pro bono 12-Step Study workshops at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital for their 75 bed in-patient Substance Abuse Recovery Program and chairs the board of Triangle Stepping Stones, a nonprofit 12-Step clubhouse in WMBG. He has lectured at W&M and Regent University to undergrad and clinical psychology doc students on alcoholism and 12-Step programs. He has been in recovery since 1982, holds a master’s degree in addictions counseling, and has had the privilege of sponsoring hundreds of people in recovery. Prior to his service as Inspector General for Virginia’s Behavioral Health and Developmental Services System (2010 to 2014), he co-founded, operated and subsequently sold several large businesses specializing in building construction for federal, state, and local government agencies in the mid-Atlantic region. He is currently retired and lives with his wife, Robynn, in Kingsmill where he works part-time (pre-COVID-19) as a personal trainer at the Kingsmill Sports Center.

Captain Bob Wershbale: Bob has been employed by the Henrico County Police since 1995. Enjoying a diverse career, he has held assignments within Patrol, Community Policing, School Resource, Personnel and Training, Professional Standards, and Criminal Investigations. He has been a Department of Criminal Justice Services Certified General Instructor and Defensive Tactics Instructor since 1998 and has been recognized as a Use of Force Subject Matter Expert in Federal Court. Bob is currently the Commanding Officer of the Organized Crime Section. An alumnus of the University of Richmond, Bob earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice in 1995 and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management in 2006.

Andreas Bienert, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, CSAC: Dr. Andreas Bienert is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Substance Abuse Counselor in the state of Virginia, and a Nationally Certified Counselor. Dr. Bienert has worked in the mental health field since 2005. Currently serving as the Clinical Program Director for Master Center for Addiction Medicine, he is also recognized for his work within inpatient and outpatient levels of care with individuals struggling to recover from addiction and trauma, and has worked with children, adolescents, adults, in addition to couples and families. Dr. Bienert also serves as an Assistant Professor at Colorado Christian University’s online Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program as well as a steering committee member of the International Registry of Counselor Education and Related Educational Programs (IRCEP), where he contributes to quality assurance efforts within International Counselor Education programs.