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Get to Know the New Psychiatrist in South Hill

Onaiza Anees

Onaiza Anees, M.D., describes her role as a Psychaitrist to be gratifying, and something she absolutely loves and enjoys. Growing up in a home with a psychologist mother exposed her to the field of human psychology in her teens. Complexity of psychopathology intrigued her.  She wanted to know how the brain works and how genetics, epigenetics play a role. Last but not the least how some people are more resilient than others and how we can work on being more resilient individuals.

“I love meeting people and building an alliance with them,” Dr. Anees said. “I believe in treating the person, not the disease. Everyone requires an individualized treatment plan,” she added.

Dr. Anees studied in New York but ultimately took a job in Lynchburg, Virginia, to be near more opportunities for camping, hiking and kayaking. Here she met her husband who won her heart by taking her to a John McEnroe tennis match; as a tennis fanatic, she thought it was the best date ever.  They currently reside in Clarksville with two young daughters.

Dr. Anees has been seeing patients since her training days, she encounters people with the same concerns no matter where she’s located. “You would think small towns like Lynchburg and South Hill would have different problems than in big cities like New York. But behavioral health is a major concern everywhere. There is such a stigma surrounding it that people tend to not get help until they’ve had a breakdown. It is important to screen for early warning signs and get help sooner, rather than waiting for it to brew beneath the surface until it blows up,” she explained.

The enthusiastic psychiatrist is excited to build a new service line for VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) and bring a much needed service to the community. She’s already been in talks with the school systems and Southside Behavioral Health to learn about their needs. “We’re excited to partner with our colleagues to improve the behavioral health of our communities,” she said.

She highly encourages people to stay active, for better physical and mental health. Exercise has tremendous effects on the brain. “The brain and body are all connected,” Dr. Anees explained. For more information on this topic, she recommends reading Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John J. Ratey, M.D.

When asked about tips for talking with kids about COVID, she said, “The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry offers some great ideas on speaking with kids about a pandemic: bit.ly/36EGGBp ‘Answer questions honestly, using words and concepts children can understand.’” She emphasized validating thoughts and feelings rather than offering empty reassurance, “It’s important to remember that children learn from watching their parents and teachers.  They are interested in how parents and adults around them respond and react to news about the current pandemic.”

Mindfulness is a term people are hearing more and more each day now that people are feeling the stress of a long-term pandemic. Dr. Anees describes mindfulness as “relaxing your mind and engaging with yourself.” Several free apps are available to help guide you through this process: Headspace, Calm and Ten Percent Happier are a few she mentioned.

Dr. Anees also recommends everyone watch a YouTube video called F.A.C.E. C.O.V.I.D.: bit.ly/2YNtsOF “It’s important to let yourself understand the emotions you are feeling are normal and to focus your energy on concrete ways you can improve your health and help those around you,” she said. “This will channel your anxiety into manageable things you can control. If you still have a difficult time processing these emotions don’t hesitate to reach out to VCU Health CMH Behavioral Health for an appointment by calling (434) 584-5400.