Fairfax County is offering courses teaching the basics identifying mental health warning signs and helping those who suffer from mental illnesses, useful skills that might save lives.

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FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) -- Fairfax County is hoping to make you a first responder.

The county is offering courses that allow anyone to receive national certification in mental health first aid.

"The course is designed for a lay person to give them some basic skills so they can help someone who's experiencing a mental health crisis or someone who may be developing some symptoms," said Belinda Buescher, communications director with Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board.

She said to think of the mental health first aid courses like CPR training where you won't walk out a doctor but instead you'll get the basics that will teach you things like where to send someone for help and warning signs to look out for, useful skills that might save lives.

The courses are designed for adult and youth mental issues. Buescher said the skills learned can apply to anything from a workplace environment to a classroom.

Overlooked mental health disorders have been increasingly linked to unthinkable violent acts.

"One-in-four or one-in-five Americans in their lives will experience some kind of mental health issue," said Buescher.

With numbers those high, the first step towards healing, could be training through these courses.

"It can really deepen you empathy for someone who lives with that condition," said Buescher. "The worst thing is silence about mental illness."

The 8-hour course, taught in English and Spanish, can be split into two 4-hour courses.

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