NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- The City of Norfolk hopes to equip bartenders, hair stylists, and barbers across the city of the right tools to help those who may be struggling with mental health.
Barber Joseph Rodriguez, owner of "The Parlor University of Barbers" in downtown Norfolk, has been a barber for 18 years.
"Some customers become family over the years," he said.
While cutting hair, he said he's surrounded by barbershop talk that has led to great relationships.
"They're a part of the family. Sometimes you cut through three generations," he said.
Like any family, sometimes people who come through his doors may be in need.
City officials in Norfolk realize that people like barbers, hair stylists, and bartenders meet and talk to a lot of people daily.
"This particular group is a great group to target," said Sarah Paige Fuller, the Executive Director of the Norfolk Community Services Board.
It's launching a training for this group of community members, hoping they can become another resource for those struggling with mental health.
"They interact with the community on a regular basis. This training is specifically for those who are not mental health professionals to give them more education and equip them," said Claudia Sparks, who works for the Norfolk Community Services Coard.
"To have the proper training to see those key identifiers when something's wrong, I think it'll be beneficial to the community," said Rodriguez.
With helping hands all around the community, the city hopes to educate, spread awareness, and strike down stigmas about mental illness.
"When we get more and more people trained, that's a lot of eyes and ears out there for us and it's a lot of outreach and it makes us a more embracing city," said Fuller.
The training is set for January 23 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the 3rd precinct in Norfolk.
If you'd like to sign up or get more information, you can contact Claudia Sparks at 757-823-1668, or email her at Claudia.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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