CIT officers visit New Reflection

Crisis Intervention Team officers visit New Reflection

 By Ken K. Gourdin

Law Enforcement Strives to Improve Response to Mentally Ill Who Are In Crisis

Author’s Note:  This article originally appeared in a recent issue of The Monthly Mirror, the newsletter published by New Reflection House.  New Reflection House, also known as Clubhouse or NRH, strives to help adults who have received a psychiatric designation of seriously and persistently mentally ill reintegrate themselves back into the community and into society by providing social, emotional, educational, occupational, and other forms of support.  It is known as a psychosocial rehabilitation program. NRH is one of about 340 so-called “Clubhouse Model” programs worldwide.

The Clubhouse Model is but one form of psychosocial rehabilitation (traditional day treatment, in which clients meet daily in structured sessions to talk about their problems and ways to deal with them, being the other main form of this treatment method).  For more information regarding the Clubhouse Model, please visit the Web site of the International Center for Clubhouse Development, the umbrella organization for Clubhouses worldwide, at  http://www.iccd.org.  See also the post on this blog located at the following address, last accessed April 8, 2013: http://www.greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/new-reflection-house/.

NRH is the opposite of the traditional mental health setting.  While traditional mental health settings usually are staff-directed, NRH is member-directed with support and guidance as needed from staff members.  Unlike traditional mental health programs, NRH participants are neither patients nor clients; rather, they are members.  In a Clubhouse setting, unlike in, for example, the more traditional day treatment setting, the focus is not on participants’ problems, or on their illnesses, disabilities, or liabilities.  Rather, it is on members’ strengths, talents, and abilities.

NRH is purposely short-staffed to ensure that member involvement is central to (rather than peripheral to) the Clubhouse’s operation.  Members, not staff, determine how they will utilize the benefits of the Clubhouse, the staff with whom they will work, and how they will use their talents and abilities to further the Clubhouse’s operation. Members and staff share “bottom-line” responsibility for the Clubhouse’s successful operation equally, and very few distinctions are made between members and staff: staff are neither members’ caregivers nor their superiors; rather, staff and members are equals, working side-by-side to ensure the Clubhouse’s success.

As part of its ongoing dual efforts to educate the public at large regarding mental illness while educating its members about resources available to them to help them integrate successfully into the community and into society, NRH hosts periodic forums to which community organizations are invited to give presentations about the resources they offer.  One such forum featured a visit from two Crisis Intervention Team officers from Salt Lake P.D.

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Salt Lake Police Detectives Bruno   and   Frederick   visited New  Reflection  Monday,  July 11  [2012]  to   talk   about   how   law  enforcement’s response  to  the mentally   ill   in   crisis   is changing. Clubhouse members found   the   presentation informative and helpful.

At the forefront of the change in law enforcement’s response to mental health crises is a program known as Crisis Intervention Team, or CIT, training.  CIT is designed to familiarize officers with mental illnesses and their symptoms, including effects on behavior.  Detective Bruno is the CIT Program Director for the state of Utah, and Detective Frederick is the Program Coordinator.

CIT was created as a response to the realization that it doesn’t make sense to take people  to  jail  who  need  treatment  instead,  and  it  also  doesn’t  make  sense  to criminalize mental illness—especially since mental illness is so widespread that even if a person himself is never diagnosed with such an illness, there’s a very good chance he has a close family member or friend who will be

Salt Lake County now has 24-hour outreach for mental illness, involving CIT officers, mental health professionals, and peer support specialists.  Peer support specialists are trained consumers of mental health services who have learned how to provide  support  to  other  people  who  are  in  situations  similar  to  the  ones  the consumers themselves once were in.  The detectives are involved in efforts to increase crisis mental health services statewide.

While one Clubhouse member questioned the need for law enforcement to respond to mental health incidents, Detective Bruno pointed out that law enforcement isn’t there to get anyone into trouble.  Rather, they’re simply there to ensure the safety of others   who   respond,   such   as   emergency   medical   technicians,   mental   health professionals, and peer support specialists.

CIT officers are regular patrol officers who are specially trained to respond to mental health incidents.  The goals of CIT, according to a brochure the officers distributed, are to develop a group of CIT-trained law enforcement officers in all jurisdictions, and to include law enforcement as a partner with mental health services in “increasing a consumer’s personal and social function.”

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About kenngo1969

Just as others must breathe to live, I must write. I have been writing creatively almost ever since I learned to write, period! I have written fiction, book- and article-length nonfiction, award-winning poetry, news, sports, features, and op-eds. I hope, one day, to write some motivational nonfiction, a decent-selling novel, a stage play, and a screen play.
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