Not Just a “Melt Down”by Susan Moreno on Jul. 28, 2009, under Health
This week local law enforcement officers are participating in a special one week training for crisis intervention. A mental health crisis is more than just a “melt down.” If not handled properly, people can get hurt……..and sometimes even worse.
The curriculum was designed after a Memphis, Tennessee model that was created over 20 years ago after an incident in which a police officer shot and killed a man with mental illness. Referred to as “suicide by cop” a local resident in Tucson, Joe Mucenski, spearheaded the effort in Tucson in 2000 after personally witnessing his son’s tragic death in the same manner.
The Crisis Intervention Team consists of representatives from the local National Alliance on Mental Illness, Pima County Legal Services, , the Department of Mental Health, the Mental Health Court, the local Police Departments, and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Some of the most illuminating education comes when local people living with mental illnesses as well as family members of someone with a brain disorder share their experiences.
The CIT training has had positive feedback from both mental health agencies and officers who received the training. Patrol officers who weren’t trained have been thankful for having a CIT officer on-hand as crisis situations can be de-escalated and many times incarcerations and hospitalizations can be avoided.
At the very least, deaths and injuries, to all parties, can be minimized and likely avoided all together.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, be sure to ask for a CIT trained officer if you feel the need to call for emergency assistance. The key to remember is to try and de-escalate the situation and remain calm.
For more information on crisis intervention visit: http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=CIT2