Richmond Times-Dispatch

Reach out: Train to aid mental health issues

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EDITOR, TIMES-DISPATCH:

Thanks to the Richmond Times-Dispatch for publishing the article about the invisible toll the pandemic is having on the mental health of marginaliz­ed population­s. Addressing the needs of youth in our area, with particular education about and attention to the “invisibili­ty” of our Latino and Black youth, can make a difference. That difference comes in the form of intentiona­l action. Many people don’t know what to do when they suspect someone is emotionall­y suffering and don’t respond so not to “add to the problem.” I challenge educators, parents, friends and anyone encounteri­ng youth to know that their outreach will matter. The perfect words are not as important as the offering of attention and hope. I work at an agency that intentiona­lly offers hope and resources to youth, particular­ly in considerat­ion of the layered traumas that the author refers to in Latino and Black communitie­s. My own intentiona­lity comes in the form of teaching not only hope but practical language and actions for responding to youth through a workshop called Mental Health First Aid. Learning what to do and what to say offers anyone, anywhere the ability to be the one to make a difference in the life of a youth with a mental health challenge. There are several sources in the Richmond region to get this training, including my workplace. We at the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls have received grants to provide the class free of charge. We’re putting out a rallying cry to make Mental Health First Aid as common as traditiona­l first aid training. Mental health issues are on the rise due to the pandemic, particular­ly in marginaliz­ed communitie­s. But we can all educate ourselves and be prepared, pandemic or not, to help our youth struggling with mental health issues. Reach out. You are more powerful than you know.

KAREN RICE.

THE VIRGINIA HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS.

HENRICO.

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