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Understanding Mental Health through Crisis Intervention Training

The mental health team at Visiting Nurse Association has been playing a key role in the training of police officers in Crisis Intervention Training for nearly 10 years.

Updated in 2015 and written by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence, in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Ohio, the Office of Criminal Justice Services and the Ohio Attorney General's Office, the Crisis Intervention Team training is a strategic plan to help foster better relationships between police and the communities they serve.

One pillar of this strategic plan is training Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) police officers on issues of mental illness to help them better serve this vulnerable population. CIT officers receive approximately 40 hours of training in areas including psychiatric disorders, substance abuse issues, de-escalation techniques and in legal issues related to mental health and substance abuse.

Amber Biacsi, Manager of the Mental Health program at VNA of Ohio and Thomas Huggins, a psychiatric nurse at VNA of Ohio, present educational presentations around mental illness. The two teach and discuss therapeutic communication to CIT officers over a two-hour block.

“We’re not trying to turn our police into therapists,” Huggins said. “The training is meant to remind us all that everyone needs to be heard, especially during times of crisis.”

He acknowledges that there are situations in which a person is so disorganized and agitated that verbal techniques are ineffective. But with many situational crises respect and good listening skills are vital to peaceful resolutions.

“It’s our community. It’s my community,” said Huggins. “We provide training to police leads to successful resolutions of mental health critical events between people and police then we all win, the community wins.”

VNA of Ohio is the only home healthcare organizations in Northeast Ohio to provide home visits to those who suffer from mental illness. Learn more about the program.

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Learn more about Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio's Mental Health services, or call us today at 1-877-698-6264.