For immediate release July21, 2016
Advocates and Law Enforcement Team Up To End Criminalization of Mental Illness
LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. – Crisis Intervention Team of Dearborn and Ohio Counties will present its first Crisis Intervention Team training program next January and February, 2017. Crisis Intervention Team training strives to prepare first responders on how to better handle a mental health crisis. CIT builds strong partnerships between first responders, mental health provider agencies and individuals and families affected by mental illness. CIT has been shown to keep first responders and those living with mental illness safer while saving money. CIT programs typically provide 40 hours of free training for first responders. Equally important, CIT programs provide a forum for partner organizations to coordinate diversion from jails to mental health services.
CIT of Dearborn and Ohio Counties has been meeting monthly for 2 years. The committee has made strides in improving the response to those experiencing a mental health crisis. Community Mental Health Center and Dearborn County Hospital have listened to the concerns of those living with mental illness and law enforcement and found ways to improve the response time in the ER. In addition, procedures in the jail have been clarified to assure each inmate on medication will be reviewed by the jail doctor on a case-by-case basis for medication orders. The committee continues to look for more solutions to appropriately meet the needs of those living with mental illness.
The historical perspective helps explain this growing problem. The number of people living with mental illness living in jails and prisons has sharply risen since state mental health hospitals began closing in 1965. In their place, Community Mental Health Centers were funded to give people living with mental illnesses opportunities to live in supported communities. However, funding for these organizations has been inadequate and has decreased over time. As the diagram shows, those living with mental illnesses are now increasingly housed in prisons. Approximately 20% of state prisoners and 21% of local jail prisoners have a recent history of a mental health condition. Approximately 70% of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition and at least 20% live with a serious mental illness. CIT strives to find better solutions for the treatment of those livng with mental illness in jails and prisons.
NAMI SE IN initiated CIT of Dearborn and Ohio Counties. As background, NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness through programs in education, support, and advocacy. NAMI partners with CIT in its mission. NAMI represents the voice of those living with mental illness on the CIT committee. To learn more about CIT, go to CIT International at http://citinternational.org/, or you can go to: www.nami.org click on “Law Enforcement” under “Get Involved” on the site map at the bottom.
The CIT committee is very pleased to bring the benefits of CIT to our community. The hope is to be able to expand this educational program to nearby communities in the future. There is no formal funding for this effort. It is free to first responders; although law enforcement must arrange time off for officers to attend. We invite private and corporate donations for this important program to be addressed to: NAMI SE IN. Put a comment “CIT” on your check. (NAMI SE IN is a 501C3 organization. Donations are tax deductible).
Mail checks to: Donna Griffin, Treasurer
121 Oakmont Ct., Unit B
Lawrenceburg, IN 47025
Kathy Barnum, CIT Coordinator
NAMI SE IN