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August 3, 2020

Whitman County Health Network Update

Mike Berney, Palouse River Counseling

Almost three years ago, the Whitman County Suicide Prevention and Resiliency Task Force grew out of an idea from the Whitman County Corner and a Pastor from one of the County’s smaller communities. It began in response to a number of suicides in the County in a relatively short period of time. The original purpose of the Task Force was to work at a grassroots level to learn from and educate communities on how we can all help someone who may be considering suicide. The Task Force is made up of representatives from communities and systems throughout Whitman County (Schools [primary and University], Law Enforcement, First Responders, Advocacy Groups, churches, Hospitals, Behavioral Health, County, and Local governments).

As a response to COVID-19, the Task Force started to brainstorm ways to build resiliency throughout the county. In order to further its goals, the Task Force requested and was granted support from our Local Health Improvement Network (LHIN) to apply for training funds from GCACH. The requested training funds were to be used to provide behavioral health trainings throughout Whitman County. The Task Force requested support in 3 areas; to print and distribute materials on how to respond and who to contact if someone tells you they are thinking about suicide; provide community trainings/materials in Mental health First Aid; and to provide training throughout Whitman County in the WA Dept. of Health, Health Support Team (HST) Training Program. 

This program helps communities provide support for the expected increase of behavioral health issues after natural or man-made disasters (COVID19).  More than 10 Whitman County community members, representing a wide variety of backgrounds, have taken the Train the Trainer class for this program.  An HST program has already been scheduled for August of 2020.  The Task Force and the Whitman County Health Network would like to thank GCACH for awarding these training funds to the Taskforce for this effort. We strongly believe that these materials and trainings in suicide prevention and resiliency provided in all parts of Whitman County will strengthen our community’s overall health.