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Crisis Through the Hoop takes a shot at increasing mental health awareness

by | May 18, 2024 | ALLFFP, Events, Fredericksburg, Health & Wellness

The bleachers in the gymnasium of James Monroe High School were abuzz with excitement on May 16 during the Crisis Through the Hoop basketball tournament in honor of mental health awareness month. 

The event was organized by Bradley Anderson, the Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT) officer for the Fredericksburg Police Department. Having taken specialized crisis intervention training, Anderson responds to mental health-related emergencies in the field with a certified clinician and counselor from the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board (RACSB). 

“With my partner, I can go and build a rapport with those during their mental-health crisis that other officers can’t,” Anderson said. “My partner and I can get a deeper understanding of what’s going on with them and offer any services needed, including risk assessments, safety plans, and — worst-case scenario — an emergency custody order.”

Having played basketball since his school days, Anderson sought a way to catch the attention of students and faculty alike and bring them together with all available mental health resources.  

“It’s all about how you deliver the information to people,” Anderson said. “I can sit here and bark all the information to them, and they will do with that information what they will. Or I can get on their level and associate it with something like a sport played in school that brings people together.” 

When explaining the reasoning of how the name came up, Anderson compared a basketball going through a hoop and coming out the other end to being able to properly experience and handle a crisis in life.  

“You must go through the crisis and let go of all the pain once on the other side of it,” Anderson said. “Essentially, you have to grow through what you go through, or it will hold you back.” 

There were two separate games held during the tournament — one game pitting male Fredericksburg police officers, CIRT officers (including Anderson), RACSB counselors versus male school staff and students. The other game had teams comprised of female Fredericksburg police officers (including the Deputy Chief of Police Betsy Mason), sheriffs from Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office, CIRT officers versus the female students and faculty. 

Outside the gymnasium were various tables set up by the RACSB to provide resources and information to any students or faculty interested as well as free food and drinks brought by Chick-fil-A, Wegmans, and Target, as well as gift cards to be given to those who participated in the tournament. Along with students, teachers, parents, children, and fellow participants cheered on the teams.  

“Our goal here is to prevent suicide,” said Michelle Wagaman, Prevention Services Director for the Rappahannock Community Services Board. “We have prevention materials, including a table from Lock & Tock Virginia, which is an organization committed to providing gun locks and preventing access to lethal means for those that may want to die by suicide.

‘We also have some clinicians and other mental health professionals in case anyone wants to talk along with demonstrations for how to use Narcan in case of an overdose and medication disposal kits.”

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