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CIT Not Just a Law Enforcement Program

I recently attended the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Indiana's Criminal Justice Summit in Indianapolis, IN. The morning's keynote speaker was Major Sam Cochran (ret.), who is nationally known for his work in developing the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model in Memphis, TN.

Cochran's message was clear: CIT is not just a law enforcement program; CIT is a community program and should be recognized as a community priority. It should involve not only law enforcement officers and dispatchers, but also prosecutors, judges, emergency room personnel, physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, therapists, the community mental health center, and other community resource centers.
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Do You Hesitate to Call the Police?

Yesterday, I served on a panel of family members who have loved ones with mental illness, where we talked to a room full of police officers (approximately 30 of them) as part of their crisis intervention team (CIT) training. NAMI-WCI (West Central Indiana) provided the training.

As I prepared my story for the presentation, I realized that I am never the one who calls 911 when my wife is experiencing a manic episode. My wife has always been the one to call, usually because she is experiencing paranoia and psychosis and feels the need to call the police for protection.

This made me wonder... why?
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Bipolar Disorder Emergency: Send Police and an Ambulance

The other day, I was looking through a very helpful publication entitled "What To Do in a Psychiatric Crisis in Indiana," published by NAMI Indiana. I read it before and mentioned it in a previous post entitled "What To Do in a Psychiatric Crisis," but what struck me this time was the discussion of calling 911. If you call 911 to report a psychiatric crisis, the dispatcher is most likely to send the police, and NAMI cautions:
It is important to note that depending on the police officer involved and other contingencies, s/he may take your loved one to jail instead of to the emergency room. Be clear about what you want to have happen.
That's excellent advice, but wouldn't it be better if you called 911 to report a psychiatric crisis, and instead of just the police an ambulance arrived, too? After all, bipolar disorder is an illness, and ambulances have medications that can calm a person down. Also, wouldn't someone who's experiencing a major mood episode be more inclined to voluntarily go away in an ambulance than in a squad car? Wouldn't it be less stigmatizing?
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Who Pays Your Bills?

Several years ago, when my wife was recovering from a major manic episode, she turned over the task of paying our bills and managing the checkbook to me.

We were just looking for ways I could help, and that was an easy one. The other day, however, I came across an article by Ginnie Graham published on the Tulsa World website entitled "
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NAMI Support Group in Crawfordsville, Indiana

Date: 2nd Thursday of every month starting May 10, 2012

Time: 6:30 - 8:00 pm

Place: Crawfordsville First United Methodist Church, 212 East Wabash Avenue, Crawfordsville, Indiana

Group type: For people with serious mental illness and family members and friends who have loved ones with serious mental illness

More info: Visit the Crawfordsville NAMI website for additional information.

(I posted the following when we were training to become NAMI support group facilitators and added the information above as we geared up to actually start our support group.)

My wife and I and one of our neighbor friends spent part of our weekend in Lafayette, Indiana training to become NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) support group facilitators. We're planning to start a support group in our town, Crawfordsville, Indiana later this spring and offer a Family-to-Family course in the fall.

I've been to several NAMI support group meetings in Lafayette (and Indianapolis when we lived there), and I've found them to be very helpful. Even when everything is going well in my family and I don't really need the support, spending time with others who've struggled with mental illness in their families and having an opportunity to help someone by sharing the knowledge I've acquired over the years feels great.

The meetings always start and end on time, and the facilitators have been very good about giving everyone a chance to speak and not allowing any attendee to monopolize the meeting.
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Crisis Management

What To Do in a Psychiatric Crisis

NAMI Indiana has some very valuable information about what to do in a psychiatric crisis in Indiana. It actually publishes a small book called What To Do in a Psychiatric Crisis in Indiana.

Along with that, you can go online at, click What to do in a crisis, and click your county to find out which Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) to contact, the number to call for police, whether the police have Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officers who are trained to respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis, and additional helpful information.

Basically, what you do is contact people who can help:
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Get Help

Be Prepared

When you're experiencing a major mood episode, having key information available is essential to ensure that everyone on your treatment team is brought into the loop and the doctor on call has detailed information about your medications.

If everything's on an even keel right now, you probably don't want to think about the possibility of a future crisis, but a period of relative calm is the best time to prepare.

Prepare an information sheet that contains all of the following information:
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