Mental health training being offered to Henrico County employees - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Mental health training being offered to Henrico County employees

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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -

Mental health is become a hot topic nationwide. Now, Henrico leaders say they are tackling it on the local level by training their employees on how to handle the various types of illnesses.

The program is in its beginning stages, but county leaders say hope to have the first three classes in the spring.  It's called Mental Health First Aid.

Right now our police officers, firefighters and doctors are trained to deal with someone who may have mental health issues.  But what about the workers who come into contact with different people ever day: our receptionists, librarians even cashiers?

"We don't understand mental health issues as a society," says newly elected Henrico Board of Supervisors chairperson Patricia O'Bannon. It's an issue she is tackling head on.  "It's one way we can provide our employees with a new way to handle very difficult situations it gives them more in depth knowledge and makes them better professionals."

About 75 people will be taking the classes but the hope is eventually all county employees will have mental health training

The training is designed to help employees spot symptoms of mental health problems and develop ways of handling it in a public setting.

County leaders cited possible mental health issues in a couple of recent school lockdowns including last week's incident at Glen Allen High School.

County leaders say mental illness is something that needs to be talked about openly.

 "We're demystifying this whole concept and are putting it out there for our staff to better understand the needs that may exist in our community," says Jane Crawley, the deputy county manager for community services.

The program will be a part of professional training.  County leaders say the cost will be between $375 and $500 per class for materials. Social service workers have already been trained to lead the classes.  The hope is grants will cover some of the costs.

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