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An area trainer has been named as Top Mental Health First Aid Instructor in Virginia in 2021. Sherry Norton-Williams, a prevention specialist with the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board, received the award for training the highest number of people in the suicide-prevention curriculum.

The National Council for Mental Wellbeing awarded the honor in recognition of Norton-Williams training 646 people through 36 courses in 2021.

Since becoming a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor in February 2015, Norton-Williams has taught 116 courses for a total of 1,874 first aiders. She is certified in both the Adult and Youth curriculums as well as the Public Safety and Higher Education modules.

“Sherry is an outstanding instructor who embraced the opportunity to teach Mental Health First Aid virtually over the past 18 months,” said Prevention Services Director Michelle Wagaman. “She has partnered with instructors from across Virginia to meet training requests. Sherry is passionate about giving community members the tools to identify, understand, and respond to a mental health crisis. We are fortunately to have her a member of the RACSB Prevention Team.”

Mental Health First Aid is a skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance-use issues. The adult curriculum is appropriate for anyone age 18 and older who wants to learn how to help a person who may be experiencing a mental health related crisis or problem. Youth Mental Health First Aid is intended for adults to learn how to better help young people experiencing mental health challenges. It reviews the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents and emphasizes the importance of early intervention.

Norton-Williams has been employed with RACSB since July 2005 and has held a variety of roles including puppeteer for Rappahannock Area Kids on the Block. In addition to teaching Mental Health First Aid, Norton-Williams is an instructor for the following curriculums: Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST); REVIVE!; safeTALK; and Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences.

To learn more or to register for an upcoming training offered by RACSB, visit https://bit.ly/MHFAregistration.

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