Our local healthcare system, Mary Washington Healthcare, conducts a community needs assessment every three years. One of the most recent identified needs is the mental health of the Greater Fredericksburg community. That’s why the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board (RACSB) is joining forces with Mary Washington Healthcare and Mental Health America of Fredericksburg to engage the community in a conversation around suicide prevention.
The topic of suicide is sensitive. It’s difficult to talk about. It’s important. Having this conversation can be the difference between life and death.
RACSB has been involved in the work of suicide prevention for decades. In fact, our only mandated service in the Code of Virginia is providing Emergency Services. That’s our 24-hour crisis number staffed by therapists who conduct screenings to determine the most appropriate level of care for an individual experiencing a mental health crisis. However, locally, our CSB does much more than that. We operate five outpatient clinics providing individual, group, and family therapy. We have an outstanding medical team of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and nurses. We provide case management, crisis stabilization, residential, and day rehabilitative services.
Over the last several years, the role of our Prevention Services staff has evolved to include preventing suicide. We facilitate more than a dozen Mental Health First Aid trainings annually. Since RACSB started offering that training in 2014, nearly 700 community members have become Mental Health First-aiders. Additionally, through our participation in a regional effort called Lock and Talk Virginia, we are distributing hundreds of lethal means safety devices each year.
You might be asking yourself what can you do? If so, fantastic. We have a few ways for you to help foster a community of wellness:
- Take this brief survey before October 23rd: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WGKD2KV Responses will be used to help guide a half-day workshop where community leaders will discuss services and gaps with regards to the prevention of suicide. (There will be a community town hall to further this conversation and we’ll share those event details when they’re available.)
- Sign-up for an upcoming Mental Health First Aid Training You’ll learn the signs and symptoms of a mental illness as well as how you can best recognize and respond to an individual in crisis. Just as so many community members are trained in CPR, we want just as many trained as Mental Health First-Aiders to provide that initial response until professional supports can be engaged.
- Attend the “Another Day” walk on October 21st. Join our community to support Mental Health America of Fredericksburg as they raise awareness and support for their youth education programs.
- See something. Say something. If you notice a loved one, friend, coworker, or neighbor is struggling, don’t be afraid to check on them and offer a lending hand.
- Call us. 24-hours a day. 7-days a week. 365-days a year. RACSB Emergency Services Therapists are here for you: 540-373-6876.