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Mental Health First-Aid Training Offered for Rural Virginians


Monday, December 13, 2021   

RICHMOND, Va. - Substance-use disorder can go hand in hand with mental-health issues, and folks in rural Virginia can take a mental-health first-aid training course to better tackle the problem.

The free two-day program takes place starting January 7 and will focus on a five-step action plan that helps folks recognize signs and symptoms.

Certified Mental Health First Aid trainer Jordan Laney is the program coordinator for the Virginia Rural Health Association, and is leading the course sponsored by the association.

She said the session is especially timely as the Appalachian region, and much of America, has been hit hard by a spike in drug overdoses during the pandemic.

"While we're working through COVID," said Laney, "I think that mental-health issues are intensified really by isolation and anxiety that the pandemic has brought into everyday life. And being able to support one another and talk about things that are often stigmatized is incredibly important."

She said folks will need Internet access to participate in the virtual training. For more information or if you need help accessing broadband, go to the Virginia Rural Health Association website at

Katrina Broughman is the director of Recover Virginia/Recover Fest, which is co-sponsoring the training session. She said folks who live in rural areas have been hit hard even before the pandemic by substance-use disorder and mental and behavioral issues.

"We don't have as much access to mental-health services and programs as people who may be in a more urban area," said Broughman. "So I find it very important, and anything we can do to help people to make them feel like they're not being left behind and that their mental health and physical health matters."

More than 100,000 Americans died of overdoses during the pandemic's 12-month peak that ended in April, up almost 30% from the 78,000 deaths the previous year, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Disclosure: Virginia Rural Health Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Health Issues, LGBTQIA Issues, Rural/Farming. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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