Alexandria, VA

Alexandria’s Department of Community and Human Services will host its second annual mental health first aid (MHFA) training program this month.

Laypersons and paraprofessionals alike are encouraged to participate in the eight-hour training and certification program.

The first session, which will focus on youth, will be conducted on Feb. 19 and Feb. 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and a second session focusing on adults mental health first aid will be held Feb. 26 and Feb. 27 from 1-5 p.m. Both training seminars will be held at the Alexandria Health Department (4480 King Street).

“The training demonstrates the initial help given to a person showing signs of mental illness or a mental health crisis,” according to the city. “The course teaches risk factors, warning signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders, the effects of the illnesses, an overview of treatments and a five-step action plan for helping someone with symptoms.”

There are about 239,000 adult Virginians with a serious mental illness, which at around 4% is on par with the national average, according to a 2015 report.

The MHFA program is designed to help people identify and respond to the signs of mental illness and addiction. Those interested must register online and there is room for 20 participants in each course, but the classes will be canceled if there are fewer than 10 registrants.

Alexandria offers 24 hour adult mental health outpatient services for residents at the Alexandria Community Services Board (720 North St. Asaph Street).

Available services include:

  • Individual, group and family counseling
  • Medication management
  • Emergency mental health services 24 hours a day
  • Assistance with admission to hospitals for psychiatric care
  • Case management to help access and coordinate services
  • In-home counseling services for the elderly or children in crisis
  • Confidential testing for HIV, tuberculosis and hepatitis
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