Region Ten Staff Profile: Zarina Burdge
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April 25, 2023

Region Ten Staff Profile: Zarina Burdge

Every month Region Ten provides a profile of our staff members during commemorative months so that the community has a sense of the unique backgrounds and stories our staff bring to the people we serve. 

Name and Position at Region Ten: Zarina Burdge, Director of Prevention Services.

Where are you from? I am never quite sure how to answer this question! My family is originally from Malaysia, but I was born in the Phillippines. When I was four years old, my family immigrated to Northern Virginia. I became a US citizen when I was 18 years old – just in time to vote for the first time! I’ve lived in Charlottesville for 15 years with my husband and our three children who were all born here. 

What drew you to the mental health field? I’ve always enjoyed working with children in various settings, including summer camps, special education schools, and therapeutic recreation to name a few. It was during an internship in college at a children’s residential treatment facility that I became interested in working with youth with mental health challenges and decided to pursue a career in clinical social work.

What are some of the highlights in your professional career? I have loved working in schools supporting youth. It’s so important for young people to have someone that they can trust; someone who will listen, encourage them, and help them build skills to be successful. While I don’t do that work directly anymore, I supervise our school-based prevention specialists who are doing that important work now. Lately, I have enjoyed working with teens again as a Teen Mental Health First Aid instructor, teaching 10th to 12th graders how to recognize the signs of mental health challenges in their friends and how to provide help and connect their friends to appropriate support such as a trusted adult or mental health professional.

What do you enjoy about your work at Region Ten? I love prevention services because we do so many different activities to promote wellness and prevent suicide and substance misuse. From supporting and educating students to training community members, collaborating with coalition partners, and doing outreach at community events, there is a lot of variety in our work. I never get bored because the landscape is always changing and I am constantly learning something new. I have also really enjoyed working with parents, formerly with the Strengthening Families Program and currently with the Family Check Up program. Helping families to use effective and positive parenting strategies is a great way to prevent youth substance use.

What does Alcohol Awareness Month mean to you? For me, Alcohol Awareness Month is a reminder that despite being so socially acceptable and easily accessible, alcohol is one of the most deadly substances. The CDC reports that each year in the United States, excessive alcohol use is responsible for 140,000 deaths. Alcohol Awareness Month is also a good reminder for parents to talk to their kids regularly about the dangers and health risks of alcohol use. It’s important for parents to send a clear message that they disapprove of underage drinking and communicate their expectations because parents are the strongest influence on young people’s decisions about whether to drink alcohol or not.

 

Important Updates

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The July 9th Board of Directors meeting will be a work session that is closed to the general public.