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The lack of mental health crisis services across the U.S. has resulted in law enforcement officers serving as first responders to most crises. A Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program is an innovative, community-based approach to improve the outcomes of these encounters.
In over 2,700 communities nationwide, CIT programs create connections between law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency services and individuals with mental illness and their families. Through collaborative community partnerships and intensive training, CIT improves communication, identifies mental health resources for those in crisis and ensures officer and community safety.
Not only can CIT programs bring community leaders together, they can also help keep people with mental illness out of jail and in treatment, on the road to recovery. That’s because diversion programs like CIT reduce arrests of people with mental illness while simultaneously increasing the likelihood that individuals will receive mental health services. CIT programs also:
NAMI promotes the expansion of CIT programs nationwide by providing NAMI Affiliates and State Organizations, local law enforcement, mental health providers and other community leaders with information and support about CIT implementation. NAMI also works with local and national leaders to establish standards and promote innovation in CIT.
Whether you are a law enforcement officer, mental health professional, elected official or person directly affected by mental illness, you can become an advocate for changing the way your community responds to mental heal crisis. Learn more about bringing CIT to your community or other efforts to improve mental health services. Reach out to your NAMI Affiliate or State Organization to identify these efforts. To keep up to date on national advocacy, join our advocacy list.
During the 40-hour CIT training for law enforcement, individuals and family members share their personal stories of lived experience with mental illness. It is an opportunity for officers to hear powerful and unique stories that help increase their understanding of mental illness and empathy, and is often identified as a favorite part of the CIT training. NAMI Sharing Your Story with Law Enforcement (SYSLE) is a presentation program that prepares individuals and family members to share their personal stories with a law enforcement audience either during a CIT training or another similar opportunity.