MENTAL HEALTH ADVISORY BOARD
The Mental Health Advisory Board has been established to provide Ryan Bartel Foundation with specialized professional advice, insights, strategy and support for its programs to ensure their optimal success and outreach to the families and community it serves.
Mental Health Advisory Board
Denisha Johnson, LCSW, CCATP
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional, and an excellent therapist that can work with many issues and am particularly skilled in working with teens and young adults. In 2016, I won Loudoun’s Best Counselor for Kids. In addition to providing individual and family counseling, I also provide group counseling services for high school teens in the Ashburn area. I entered the world of entrepreneurship and opened a mental health private practice in 2017. Prior to that, I was the clinical director for Wellness Connection in Ashburn, VA. The 10 years before that, I worked with Loudoun County Mental Health in a variety of positions. Starting as a residential counselor, I obtained my Master's in Social Work and my LCSW and transitioned to become an Outpatient Clinician specializing in adolescent treatment. In that role, I provided individual, group, and family therapy, as well as crisis intervention to children, adolescents, and adults. I am well-versed in dealing with issues of trauma, attachment disorder, anxiety, and depression, as well as a variety of other issues that impact children, teenagers, and adults. I also worked as a Student Assistance Liaison for several middle and high schools in Loudoun County, where I completed assessments and evaluations of children who came to the attention of their guidance counselor for assorted reasons. As an Outpatient Clinician, I worked closely with school officials, probation officers, the Department of Family Services, and numerous other agencies to coordinate services. I have worked with a variety of populations, including the homeless population in Loudoun County providing homeless outreach services, the intellectually disabled population in Washington, DC to ensure they were receiving appropriate and humane treatment, and children from the ages of 7-12 who had behavioral and mental health issues and were residing in a residential treatment center in Norfolk, VA. I have attended numerous trainings regarding transgender and LGBTQ issues in teenagers and the impact those issues have on their education, families, and support system, as well as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to guide survivors of trauma towards recovery and empowerment. I go out of my way to create a comfortable and safe environment where children, adolescents, and adults feel supported in implementing change in their lives. I consider myself to be a solution-focused therapist but also utilize acceptance and commitment therapy techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy, and most importantly, provide client-focused treatment. My philosophy to therapy: “Life is a journey and any impact I can have on helping a person through that journey is an honor and privilege. I aim to help people understand and accept themselves, and move towards the life they deserve.”
Dr Faith James PhD, LPC, LMFT
I have chosen to be part of the MHAB because I have a passion for mental wellness and community service. I have served as a member of the Northern Virginia Licensed Professional Counselor Association since 2014 and wanted to lend my service to the Ryan Bartel Foundation in the same capacity. It is my hope that I may act as an agent of change and support against the stigma of Suicide in our community. It is my hope that the work I do as a psychologist can be a support to the families that the foundation works with. I am both a Psychologist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor with over 25 years of counseling, psychotherapy, and teaching experience. I am committed to the overall well-being of families and work with families in transition, such as divorce, grief and loss, and becoming new parents. During my career, I have provided counseling and psychotherapy services to a wide variety of populations in both public and private sectors. I have considerable experience working with victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, suicidal ideation and individuals and families dealing with substance abuse/addiction issues. I have also worked extensively with adolescents assisting in college preparation and career planning. I graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and received my master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Marymount University. At Capella University I completed my Doctoral Degree (Ph.D.) in Psychology with a specialization in Work-Family Conflict and Women’s studies. My approach to counseling is simple: Everyone faces challenges in life from time to time for which they may feel that they do not have all the tools to deal with alone. I see myself as a ‘coach’. I work with you to help you move from where you are now to where you want to be. I help you identify what you want and develop a plan to get there. In addition to clinical work, I have extensive experience as a college professor and as a Clinical Supervisor. I am affiliated with the following organizations: American Counselors Association, Psychology Today and Northern Virginia LPC group. I am the founder and clinical director for Battlefield Counseling Centers which serves Prince William, Loudoun, and Fairfax counties. I have served as a board member for the Northern Virginia Licensed Professional Counselors association since 2014 and was president for the past 2 years. At present, I am the immediate past president. I am married and have three children and like to spend time outdoors and with my family. When I am not teaching, counseling, or volunteering, I enjoy traveling with my husband and spending time with my children, nieces and nephews.
Suchita Palit, MA, LPC
As a South Asian woman and community mental health care provider, I am passionate about youth and families in our community having access to support and resources that are both inclusive and representative of current needs. I joined the Mental Health Advisory Board to support building workshops and spaces that allow the youth in our communities to feel safe and seen, while also connecting with caregivers to provide information and resources to help foster positive experiences with mental health supports, as well as increasing awareness of the emotional and interpersonal needs of youth in our communities. As a member of this advisory board, I hope to support the creation of content that is affirming, practical and accessible to all families in this area. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) licensed to practice in Virginia. I received my BA in Psychology from Temple University and her MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marymount University, where I served as the Newsletter Committee Chair for Chi Sigma Iota – Mu Upsilon Gamma Chapter. I am currently employed by LCPS as a Student Assistance Specialist (SAS) where I provide prevention and early intervention services relating to substance use and mental health at the middle school and high school level. In this role, I am not only able to provide substance use prevention education, but also connect struggling students and families to support in and out of school. Prior to this role, I spent the last decade working with adults, families, and youth who were seeking mental health services in community outpatient, residential, crisis and intensive in-home settings. During previous employment with Loudoun County Mental health, I was chair of the Multicultural Committee and member of the DEI committee for the Department for the Behavioral Health Outpatient. I am trained in a variety of treatment modalities and experienced in supporting individuals with severe mental illness, complex trauma, grief and loss, addiction, as well as gender and identity related concerns. I function from a multicultural lens to provide inclusive and affirming care when supporting families across all settings.
Kelly Pollard, LCSW
I met Suzie Bartel when volunteering at Woodgrove High School’s We’re All Human group. After learning of the group, I called her and offered my services as a social worker with experience assessing teens and adults in mental health crisis. I wanted to help our community heal after Ryan’s death and work to prevent future tragedies. After volunteering at Woodgrove WAH, and at The Fort, I feel ready to help develop the new advisory board and assist with providing direction. After working in Erie, Pennsylvania for several years with adults with serious mental illness, I received my Master’s in Social Science Administration from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. I have worked with children and adults in inpatient psychiatric hospitals, Head Start programs, outpatient substance abuse treatment, Children’s Advocacy Center and Loudoun County Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Developmental Services. I currently work as an elementary school social worker in Loudoun County. I have been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker since 2003. As a result of relationships developed at Woodgrove High School, I am enjoying my fifth year of coaching Winter and Spring Track and Field. I have coordinated a Girls on the Run program and enjoy providing clinical supervision to social workers seeking licensing.