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Mental health organizations teach deputies best practices when interacting with people in crisis

Deputies will go through an hour long training to learn the best ways to respond to someone in a mental health crisis.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Several organizations from around the state are teaming up for special training happening Thursday to make sure our local sheriff’s deputies have the knowledge they need to help others in crisis situations.

The 40-hour course often called crisis intervention training or CIT teaches law enforcement about responding to situations where someone may be in distress due to their mental health, or responding to someone with a disability.

Allison Farrell with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department says it is always important for law enforcement to learn a more compassionate response.

"This training will all for them to understand some of the symptoms and diagnoses that come along with those interactions so they can have a more evidence-based approach for dealing with people that may be in crisis," Farrell explained.

In the last year, Richland County says they have seen an increase in the number of crisis situations they have had to respond to.

Although CIT training has been around since 2004, counties across our state started ramping up their efforts surrounding mental health in more recent years with Richland County creating their own CIT teams in 2021, made up of an officer and a mental health professional to respond to these kinds of crisis situations.

Leaders at the National Alliance on Mental Illness say the use of these teams is critical now more than ever.

The organization conducted a study last year that found 1 in 4 teens have been diagnosed with a mental health condition and 64% of those surveyed believe the world is more stressful now than it was when their parents were teenagers. NAMI SC Executive Director, Bill Lindsey says 2023 could be a buildup of previous years.

“The pandemic didn't make it any better, it made it worse for people in crisis I think, especially with young people," Lindsey stated.

The CIT training takes deputies through real-life scenarios in how to deal with moments where more than a strong presence is needed.

“They do a role play... learn how to distract them with, something as simple as walking into a room and someone might be agitated but wearing a Carolina Football shirt, and so you start talking to them about the football to distract," Lindsey explained.

Although Richland county has CIT teams not every county in the state has them. That is why NAMI and DDSN want to continue doing these training courses with as many law enforcement agencies as possible.

If you or anyone you know are going through a tough time, or a crisis and need someone to talk to, call 9-8-8.

Author: Peyton Lewis - View original article from WLTX channel 19 Columbia



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