BROOKINGS – Recently, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) testified before congress:
“Police are often the first responders when a person is in psychiatric distress. Every community owes it to them to provide the knowledge and training to handle mental health crisis situations safely and compassionately. Ultimately, we should be promoting treatment rather than warehousing them in jails and prisons.”
It is for this reason, The Brookings Empowerment Project asked multiple Brookings County stakeholders to come together to start discussing how to support networking, training and education to support law enforcement when in a crisis scenario as well as how to support decreasing the stigma in the community of needing support when experiencing suicidal ideation symptoms.
This committee has taken steps to secure Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) availability locally for our law enforcement as well as a process of oversight of that training. The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program serves as an avenue for joining both the police and the community together in a partnership for common goals of safety, understanding, and service to the mentally ill and their families. The committee also hopes to help educate the public on the situations faced by these officers.
Plans are being put in place to begin local CIT training in Brookings in November. Previously, training involved sending officers out of the community for multiple full days for that training. This impacted the number of officers that could be sent. By providing local CIT training spread out over several weeks the number of officers that could attend is increased.
During the committee’s last review meeting, year to date statistics were shared from the Helpline Center. The local 211 Connection Center, showed 47 active crisis calls and in 39 of these, Helpline Center staff were able to create a safety plan with the caller. Committee members shared data about the rise of suicidal ideation numbers in Brookings School District as reported from the SEARCH survey data and numbers of Brookings County involuntary committals to inpatient mental health treatment year to date. It is this specific data to Brookings County that fuels the committee’s desire to offer the CIT training locally to first responders as well as provide education and tools to the community focused on mental health crisis.
A “Talk Saves Lives” community presentation will occur at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, in The Brookings Public Library. This is led by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention South Dakota Chapter.
For more information on this committee contact Marly Thompson from the Brookings Empowerment Project http://empowerbrookings.org/ or [email protected]