Walla Walla and Columbia counties have been awarded $160,000 in state funds to help with mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
The grant to the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health covers 18 months and will target programs including Reach Out Walla Walla and will aid in training two residents as Mental Health First Aid facilitators and one as a Sources of Strength regional facilitator
Other planned uses for the funding include furthering the Men in the Middle work group, partnering with Providence St. Mary Medical Center on suicide intervention and sending representatives to a national conference in Portland, Ore.
Peggy Needham, behavior health prevention specialist, said applications for trainers will be sought after the contract is signed and fully executed. She said people for the positions likely will be chosen based on training requirements.
Mental Health First Aid, open to the community, is meant to help people in a mental health and/or substance use or related crisis. The course teaches risk factors and warning signs for addiction and mental health concerns, ways to help in and out of a crisis, and where to go for help.
Sources of Strength is meant for school districts and provides prevention of violence, suicide, substance abuse and bullying.
Men in the Middle, a suicide-prevention work group for middle-age men, formed in October and has only met three times, Needham said. The group includes men from all professions as well as veterans and meets from 9-10 a.m. on the last Tuesday of the month at the Walla Walla Fire Department, 200 S. 12th Ave.
And Reach Out, which began in 2016, will receive funding to support its suicide prevention efforts and help Columbia County establish similar programs.
The Community Health Coalition meets from 9-10 a.m. the second Thursday of the month upstairs at Community Health, 314 W. Main St., Walla Walla.
Those wishing to be involved can contact Needham at 509-524-2684 or pneedham@ co.walla-walla.wa.us.