Virginia Beach to host community listening sessions ahead of Marcus Alert implementation


VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia – The Virginia Beach Department of Social Services will be hosting two community virtual listening sessions to collect public feedback on the city’s implementation of the Marcus Alert.

The Marcus Alert, enacted in late 2020, is a state-wide mental health alert system ensuring behavioral health experts are involved in responding to people in crisis. It is named in honor of Marcus-David Peters, a high school biology teacher killed by police in Richmond while going through a behavioral health crisis in 2018.

The Virginia Beach DHS says it seeks feedback from community members, especially those with direct experience with mental health or substance abuse disorders, developmental disabilities, involvement in community forces. order, temporary detention or emergency custody as an individual or member of the family.

“When we consider our response model, it’s critical that we hear from people who have a vested interest in how we approach someone who is calling for help,” said Angela Hicks, DHS deputy director for behavioral health and developmental services. “We want to hear from those who have been through the process, or from friends and relatives who have been there to help someone recover. We want to hear what is important for our community to take into account. “

Some of the issues DHS is asking for comments on include:

  • Who should respond when someone calls for help during a behavioral health crisis (mental health clinicians, peer specialists, law enforcement, combination supports or others)?
  • What kind of response would you want for yourself or your loved ones during a behavioral health emergency?
  • Where should teams intervene (such as homes, schools or other community places)?
  • What would make you more comfortable asking for help early on?
  • What type of follow-up or ongoing support would be helpful to people entering our services in a crisis?

Listening sessions will take place at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, August 25 and at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 2. Click on the links to register for one of the sessions.

Written responses will also be accepted from those who cannot attend or would prefer not to speak openly. To submit your thoughts in writing, send an email to [email protected]

To learn more about the city’s implementation of the Marcus Alert, click here.


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