How are you treated in a crisis?

This is not a pleasant post for me to write.  Too many times I have heard of people who were in a mental health crisis and the police were called in.  I’ve always told non-mental illness people don’t ever call the police.  They don’t have a clue what to do.  All to often, in a crisis situation like this family members or friends call the police because they think they can help.  And all too often, their loved one is taken away in handcuffs and treated like a common criminal only to be dropped off at an ill equipped ER to receive degrading care.  Then comes the issue of the severe lack of beds in the state (any state), so they are released…untreated and still in crisis.

These horrible situations happen because our police force is ill prepared to handle a mental health crisis.  In my small town, out local NAMI chapter does CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) training with our police…at least it use to.  I have to look into that.  They actually had police officiers and those of us with a mental illness sit down together and talk as part of the training.  They could ask us questions and we could tell them what would and wouldn’t work so well.  So, I thought if my small town was doing this surely a larger metropolitan area was doing this. So I asked one of those “big city” officers if they did CIT.  He had never heard of it before!  That answered that question.  I had my husband with me as back up just in case something “uncensored” came out of my mouth that might get me in trouble.  You know how those filters are just gone with Bipolar Disorder.  Anyway, I asked him what he would do in a mental health crisis situation…you guessed it!  Cuff the person and take them to the ER!  I said, “Are you serious?! Do you really think that’s the appropriate thing to do?”  That’s when my husband thanked the officer for his time and whisked me away.  🙂  I just couldn’t believe it.  Our police forces have no means of de-escalating a mental health crisis.  No one is giving them the tools.  

So, here’s where my advocacy comes in.  I know my Congressman is working on something based on my meetings with him, but I’m not exactly sure what.  We talked about a lot.  I think it’s time we ask for mandatory CIT training of our police force.  I think we need to start at the state level.  I will write up a letter that can easily be personalized.  Will any of you join me?  Will any of you take this letter to your local state representatives?  We need a mighty voice.  I have a loud one, but I am only one person…I need more people to make this work.  So, will you help me?

5 thoughts on “How are you treated in a crisis?

  1. I would love to get involved in something like this. I’m a political organizer and working on a campaign for a candidate who’s made improving mental health services a major part of her platform. I also know several state and US legislators from my state (Massachusetts) and could probably get a meeting at least with the state legislators.

    If you need any help, I’d be happy to do what I can. I think it’s a great project.

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    1. I would LOVE the help. I figure I’ll get the letter written tomorrow. That will give me the weekend to tweek it a bit. You would be awesome to have my team! Thank you!

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  2. I would like to help, but frankly this is too triggering for me and my PTSD flares up. I’ve been cuffed and taken to the b.h.u. despite my being compliant. I advocate in other ways such as leading women with bipolar support groups. I have young children and am doing the best I can.

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  3. Donna D says:

    I had a neighbor who was constantly being arrested for violent fights with her husband. She was taken away in cuffs. Each time the husband would bail her out. I don’t understand why he did not get her help. Instead of this happening over and over, there should be a program where a mental help professional can intervene and help her. The police haven’t a clue what to do. Many times she was holding her baby and was taunting everyone present. Very scary situation. Worst thing was she would laugh after situation was over and use bipolar as an excuse.

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