When the call comes and police arrive, what will they do? If the case involves someone with a mental illness, the outcome is often uncertain. Often the consequences can be tragic, even fatal. Police encounters with those with mental illness doesn’t have be end this way.
The social challenge is to train police better in the management of cases involving mental illness. The means to this end is a program called Crisis Intervention Training, or CIT. All police forces should engage this program. Alas, too few have. The recent Capitol Hill shooting of an alarmed and frightened mother possibly troubled by a psychiatric disability has brought this issue again to light, as described in a prominent article by The Alantic, one of the nation’s major magazines.
From the article:
The recent Capitol Hill shooting of an unarmed woman by police officers, and the uncertainty surrounding her mental state at the time she drove her car into a White House barricade, is a stark reminder of the uncomfortable interplay between mental illness and law enforcement in times of crisis.
Without the appropriate amount of mental health training for police, experts say, rash stigmatization and misinterpretation of the intentions of the mentally ill can cause vital errors and ultimately make the difference between life and death… [Read the full article].