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Raines wins mental health first aid award

Portrait of Krissi Raines of Abbeville
Krissi Raines of Abbeville recently won an award for work with mental health first aid.

Krissi Raines has been named one of two top mental health first aid instructors in South Carolina.

The Abbeville resident will receive the award in April, when she will be recognized at a conference in Austin, Texas.

Raines, the daughter of retired Abbeville County educators Fred and Faye Raines, is being given the award by the National Council of Behavioral Health.

She is one of about 97 mental health first aid instructors in South Carolina. The award was based on peer reviews and evaluations from the instructor's classes.

Krissi works with Westview Behavioral Health, based in Newberry, and in her work as a mental health first aid instruction she helps with a program that is funded by a federal mental health oriented grant that covers nine counties.

"The program started October 1, 2018 by Westview Behavioral health," said Raines. "The grant name is Mental Health Awareness Training Grant.

The counties covered are the GLEAMNS counties (Greenwood, Laurens, Edgefield, Abbeville, McCormick, Newberry and Saluda) as well as Anderson and Lexington."

Raines was for three years the administrator of the Project Aware grant here in Abbeville County.

"We trained 801 people to be youth mental health first aiders," she said.

The Abbeville program was geared toward helping train adults to help children and young adults with mental health issues.

Raines is an Abbeville High School graduate and received her undergraduate degree at Lander. For graduate school, she went on to Liberty University where she received a masters in professional counseling.

Krissi provided The Press and Banner with a statement encapsulating her feelings on receiving the award:

"This award means a great deal to me for many reasons. For 14 years, I worked on the clinical side of mental health and addiction. In 2016, I made a career change to the education and prevention side of mental health. I have a love to learn, to help others learn, and to teach like my parents. Becoming an MHFA instructor gave me this opportunity. Four months after taking the position at ACSD, I lost someone dear to me to suicide. Two months later, I lost someone else. Over the course of the last four years of being an MHFA instructor, I have lost three friends to suicide and four to addiction (which is often called indirect suicide)."

"With each loss I felt a deeper call from God to this work of educating communities. I also felt He was answering my prayers of why He had given me this position. I have always wanted to inspire others and be a world changer. Being a world changer begins with us, in ourselves and then how we use that change to impact our communities. The change we bring in our community can cause a ripple effect.

"People are hurting and struggle with mental health issues for various reasons. Just as it is our job as community members to support the football team and Relay for Life rallies, it is also our job to support community members who might be struggling. This award means so much because it has given me an opportunity to help others and because there so many great MHFA instructors to choose from. With this award, I will have the opportunity to impact our state and nation in a bigger way and that is something I am looking forward to."

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