In the Face of Tough Realities, 5 Stories of Appalachian Victories


As the coal industry in Appalachia continues to decline, more and more families are struggling. Poor job prospects throughout the region are causing a lot of anxiety in families. And mental health expects say that kind of stress can accumulatively lead to mental illness. What can parents do to help their children cope with stress?

If we think, as parents, that our children might be going through something, how do we approach it without over dramatizing it?

In this episode, we’ll hear five stories of loss, grief, and resilience.

1. Boxing Champion’s Story of Survival. When a person who has been abused leaves their abuser they are 70 times more likely to be killed in the following weeks than if they just stay with the abuser. It’s something that Christy Salters is all too familiar with. You might recognize that name: Christy’s a pioneer in women’s boxing.

2. Loss of Hope Can Complicate Recovery, says Dr. Carol Smith, Associate Professor and Co-Coordinator of the Violence, Loss and Trauma Certificate Program at Marshall University. She’s published 10 articles, presented nationally and internationally on trauma, and works with multiple community initiatives to reduce childhood trauma in West Virginia. Jessica Lilly talks with Smith about why shaking off a wound to your heart is not easy to do. Smith is a member of the American Counseling Association. She’s working on several programs meant to help children in the West Virginia, including Handle With Care.

3. W.Va. Program Helps Children Deal With Trauma. In 2013, the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice launched a program called Handle With Care. The collaborative  program is meant to help children who’ve experienced abuse, neglect or other types of trauma succeed in school. The program that started on the West Side of Charleston is now expanding across the state and in other communities across the nation.

4. Radio Diaries: Frankie. “I was coming home from school. I got off the school bus. My Dad and Mom were in the kitchen fixing a waffle iron. And about 10 minutes after I got off the bus, all these cops pulled in our yard. And my Dad looked out the window and he looked at our family in the kitchen. And he said, he loves us and he’ll never forget us.” This story originally aired on NPR’s All Things Considered in 1997.

Radio diaries producer Joe Richman revisited Frankie 16 years later:

5. Providing Mental Health Services to students. While every school in West Virginia has guidance counselors, a new initiative gives students access to mental health therapists. Appalachian Health reporter Kara Lofton visited one of the schools to meet up with some of the students.

If you need help, the Crisis Textline offers 24/7 communication though texts. The site says you can text anything at anytime, just text “GO” to 741-741. You can also find a list of other hotlines to call on their website.

Music in this episode of Inside Appalachia was provided by Rodney Atkins, Andy Agnew Jr., Ben Townsend, Jake Schepps, and Our What’s in a Name theme music is by Marteka and William with “Johnson Ridge Special” from their Album Songs of a Tradition. Inside Appalachia is produced by Jessica Lilly and Roxy Todd. Catherine Winter edited the show. Audio mixing is by Zander Aloi.