CRAIG COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — There are conversations nationwide regarding the need for more mental health resources, especially in rural communities. WFXR News reported this strain is also impacting local law enforcement across southwest and central Virginia.
Craig County Sheriff Lloyd ‘Trevor’ Craddock tells WFXR News there is a major need for mental health services in his county.
“A lot of the calls we go on, we do a lot of talking to people,” said Craddock. “There are calls where we’re dealing with people that are just having a bad day and they need somebody to talk to. I don’t know that I can break down an actual percentage of that.”
According to Craddock, his deputies are asked to wear a lot of metaphorical hats. They often have to respond to mental health situations, so they take classes and receive training, but they are not trained, professionals.
“When we have to take somebody in on a paperless ECO, that deputy is going to be gone from whenever time that happens, for eight hours or more, depending on when they can find a bed and when we can get them transported to that location,” Craddock explained.
The Craig County Sheriff’s Office has a little more than a handful of deputies to service the 4,865 people in the county, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
WFXR News’ Kathlynn Stone asked Craddock what resources are available for deputies when it comes to getting immediate help for dealing with someone who may be struggling.
The sheriff told her that there is no one to call, adding that it’s just the deputies at his office.
“There’s no services here that we can call to come out to the scene and help assist with this mental health crisis. We deal with it,” said Craddock.
According to Craddock, it would be beneficial to have “mental health services that are here that we could call that could maybe come to the scene and put their input in as to what type of help the person needs, and we just don’t have that.”
The Craig County Health Center had a counselor on staff, who Craddock believes is still there and available by appointment. Help is also available to people through Social Services. If people are unable to take advantage of those options, they need to drive as far away as Roanoke or Blacksburg for help.
“We all know that there’s a lot of mental health issues, and we need help and the people need help and they need access to this type of counseling and other services,” Craddock said. “It would be a great help. I think our community and a lot of communities, as a whole in the rural areas, we just don’t have those services and they are needed.”