Category Archives: C.I.T. Crisis Intervention Training (for police officers)

David’s Story

While my son was ill for 16 years, I kept scraps of paper where I jotted down all the crises we all experienced. Using all that information, I eventually wrote a book which I called ‘DAVID’S STORY’, even though his name was DORON. I have blogged for years about schizophrenia and the blame, shame, stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness.

Here is my last blog for this year.

DAVID’S STORY

This is the story of one family, the story of millions of families worldwide. My happy, busy, social son, changed. ‘A classic case of paranoid schizophrenia,’ the psychiatrist said. It took a long time before we learned that parents could not cause this illness; that we could not be blamed. We thought he would go into the hospital ill but exit healthy. Wrong. He tried psychotherapy, occupational therapy, dance therapy and group therapy yet he continued to be out of focus, angry, psychotic and paranoid and the army of psychiatric health workers and psychiatrists were unable to help him.

Our teenage daughters stopped bringing friends home. Fear crept in. We attended family therapy at the hospital, told them what transpired when he was home, yet, they sent him home for weekends. BUT, I noticed that in the hospital, the staff always walked behind him.

Meanwhile our daughters did without; without sufficient time from us, without vacations or extras as spare cash went into another prescription, another treatment, and for his psychiatrist’s fees. Our 13-year-old daughter summed it up. ‘IF David’s body were hurting, people would bring gifts and visit him in the hospital, but because it is his mind that is ill, they stayed away.

Our family remained together, took each day as it came, learned to find the positive things in life and even realized how lucky we were to have a father/husband who was so caring,  as well as parents who loved one another. Together, we forged new dreams.

 Our son could no longer bear the voices in his head and realized that he was never going to have peace of mind. All he had ever wanted was to hold down a decent job, have someone to love, and … peace of mind. So, he went to a place of beauty; a place suitable for the surfer he had been.

Our son’s name was Doron but when I wrote this book, I changed all our names and called him David.

In January 1996, three  months before his 34th birthday, we buried our son. On that dull winter’s day, the earth that had been dug out stood in a mound ready to be thrown back. For the last time I talked to my son, while in the cold, still air, I heard a thousand birds sing their songs of life.

All the people who loved my son said farewell, even those who had not coped with his schizophrenia but knew how to handle his death. So many friends, neighbors and acquaintances stood, shoulders touching, their breath mingling in the icy air into one great sigh for our loss. I whispered goodbye. So much left unsaid. I ached to see him on his surfboard There was a thud of earth, a marker – and he was gone. He didn’t even say goodbye. In a tumble of memories, I saw David’s superimposed on the painful image of his anguished expression.

I love you, David. Rest. 1962 – 1996.

David’s Story by Jill Sadowsky, can be bought as a kindle book on Amazon and Smashwords.

 

Training officers about mental illness benefits prison safety …

inmate in a prison

Joseph  Galanek, a mental health researcher for the Case Western Reserve University, spent nine months in an Oregon maximum security prison to learn first-hand how the prison manages inmates with mental illnesses. During 430 hours of observation and interviews, he learned that inmates were treated humanely and that security was more manageable when cell block officers were trained to identify symptoms of mental illness as well as how to respond to it.

He discovered that officers used their authority with flexibility and discretion within the rigid prison structure, to deal with mentally ill inmates. As the number of prisoners with severe mental illness in prisons is increasing, efforts need to be made by all prison staff to ensure that this segment of the prison population is  given appropriate mental health care and safety.

Galanek watched how administrative policies and cultural values allowed positive relationships to develop between officers and prisoners diagnosed with severe mental illnesses among the prison’s 2,000 inmates.

Officers received training in identifying symptoms of mental illness, which in turn, led to better security, safety and humane treatment of potentially volatile inmates. Officers were allowed to use their discretion when handling certain situations.

Prisoners are required to work 40 hours at an assigned job but one inmate chose to remain in his cell instead of reporting to work – a prison offense. The inmate told the officer that he was experiencing auditory hallucinations so, instead of sending the prisoner to a disciplinary unit, the officer allowed him to remain in his cell until the hallucinations passed.

In another case, a correctional officer confronted a violent prisoner who was not taking his medication and had begun smashing a TV and a mirror as well as threatening other prisoners. Instead of disciplinary confinement, the officer conferred with mental health workers who sent the prisoner to the inpatient psychiatric unit to get him back on his meds.

Prisoners are not allowed to loiter nor talk to other inmates outside their cells. Once, a high-functioning prisoner with a bipolar disorder was working as a janitor; a job that allowed him to talk to other mentally ill inmates and through those conversations, he was able to let officers know when other prisoners were exhibiting symptoms of their mental illness. That information allowed officers to address potential problems fast and decrease security risks.

Access to this kind of prison culture is unusual but Galanek was uniquely prepared to navigate this prison for his research as he’d been a mental health specialist from 1996 to 2003 and was uniquely prepared to navigate the prison for his research. ‘They trusted me,’ he said. ‘I knew how to move, talk and interact with staff as well as inmates in the prison.’

 

Crisis Intervention Team

CIT LOGOHow Michael Woody became president of the Police Crisis Intervention Team.

 

Click once on the link, ignore the very short commercial, then listen to the story Michael Woody has to tell :-

http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=322008371&m=322008372

CIT in action

1000 blogs posted to date

no more stigma 5I posted my 1,000th blog on May 23, 2014 and even I was amazed at the amount of material I have included on these pages.

I have written two books, my work has been included in two Anthologies and I have had many articles and stories published. So you might ask why I began blogging. Well, while my son was ill with schizophrenia, my husband and I belonged to a support group but if we’d had blogs to read in those days, we would have gained even more useful information that could have helped us enormously. So, I decided to blog about mental illness, other brain illnesses and Alzheimer’s disease and hoped that in these pages, by speaking out frankly, somehow, I would manage to give others some empathy and even hope sometimes, encourage people to join me, and together, we might be able to lessen the blame, shame, stigma and discrimination accorded the brain illnesses. What surprised me most was how many people in countries all over the world started following my blog. Probably due to the sensitivity of the subject of mental illness, few people actually left comments, but, what they did do, was send me emails. And, I replied to every single one of them even though it is time consuming.

When my blog was born in November 2011, I had no idea of how much work it would entail to write a blog and keep it going. and, I had to learn how to post a new blog, how to save a draft and worst of all, how to get an image not only onto the screen where my blog was, but, I had to learn how to make that image show up and remain where I wanted it to be on that particular page. The result was that instead of going to bed at a reasonable time at night, I found myself fighting with my laptop till the early hours of the morning; sometimes with good results, but very often, the computer won the battle and I gave up tearfully. After all who could a blogging grandma call at that hour? Believe me, I was often tempted to wake B., my computer guru, but I knew that he would not have been impressed.

I felt as if I were doing a fairly good job, but every time a journalist related yet another incident of violence committed by an unstable person – the latest occurred on May 24, 2014 when a young person suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome and living in the USA, went on a shooting spree.  In my humble opinion, unless the United States of America changes its gun laws, I cannot see a way out. I always thought that the safety of a country’s citizens was the priority of a government.   

 In America under the Brady Act, one cannot have a gun for personal or business use if a person:  

Has been convicted of a crime punishable by being in prison for more than one year.

Is a fugitive from justice;

Is addicted to, or illegally using any controlled substance;

Has been ruled mentally defective by a court or is committed to a psychiatric institution;

Is an illegal alien living in the United States;

Has received a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces;

Has renounced his/her U.S. citizenship.

Is subject to a restraining court order that involves his/her ‘intimate partner,’ that partner’s child, or children; has been convicted of domestic violence in any court.

 In spite of the above, I shall continue to blog about accepting a person with a mental illness the way we accept people with other illnesses. Maybe I am naive, but I firmly believe that even one voice can make a small difference. Please join me.

Time for change 1

A mental health nurse in a police station?

nurseIt might be a step in the right direction if mental health nurses were based in police stations to assist the officers who respond to calls and identify the ones with mental illnesses. Only too often, criminals with mental health problems are diagnosed only after they have been incarcerated in a prison.

Amongst the prisoners, there are always some with mental health issues or substance misuse problems. One in every four prisoners has a severe mental illness such as depression or schizophrenia. As a result, police officers spend a great deal of time they cannot afford, dealing with these people.

If a suspect is correctly diagnosed, they can be offered treatment and support which could affect the way they are dealt with by the criminal justice system. IF they are diagnosed and dealt with, the authorities have a way of reducing them from reoffending. While police officers should be working on their fight against crime, those with mental illnesses should be focused on and receive the care they need as soon as possible.

So many people are sent to prison needlessly due to a failure of the authorities to respond to some of the underlying issues in their lives. Nurses bring vital skills to these complex and challenging cases that are not meant for police officers to handle.  Strictly speaking, mental illness should be dealt with long before a consumer reaches the stage of imprisonment.

Failed approach to schizophrenia

18/1/13

Excerpts from Dr. Paul Steinberg’s article in the New York Times recently. Dr. Steinberg is a psychiatrist in private practice. 

‘In the USA, there has been a swing in mental health care over the past 50 years; too little hospitalization of teenagers and young adults who have had a recent onset of schizophrenia and too little education about the public health impact of untreated mental health disorders; too few psychiatrists to talk about and treat severe mental disorders, even though the medications available can be remarkably effective.

Psychosis means losing touch with reality and is an umbrella term. The most common source of severe psychosis in young adults is schizophrenia, which means ‘split personality’ in Greek, but is actually a physiological disorder. This illness usually rears its head between the ages of 15 and 24 and there are early signs. Acute symptoms do not appear until adolescence or young adulthood.

People suffering from schizophrenia are unaware of how strange their thinking has become and do not seek treatment. At Virginia Tech, where Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people in a rampage shooting in 2007, his  professors knew that something was terribly wrong, but he was not hospitalized for long enough to get well.

Parents and classmates of Jared L. Loughner, who killed 6 people and shot and injured 13 others including a member of Congress in 2011, did not know where to turn.

We may never know what demons tormented Adam Lanza, who slaughtered 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 14, 2012, though his acts strongly suggest undiagnosed schizophrenia.

Too many people with acute schizophrenia have gone untreated. There have been too many Glocks, too many children and adults cut down in their prime. Enough already.’

I am convinced that if teachers, professors, parents and students knew more about the early onset signs of this illness, they would be able to bring this information to the attention of professionals who would know what to do.

To do this, we have to bring mental illness out into the open, which is what I have been writing about for a very long time.  HELP ME PLEASE. The more people who take up this task, the faster we will get there.

 

CIT – Crisis Intervention Training for police officers

POLICEMAN January 17, 2013

WHAT IS CIT ?  It is a collaboration of professionals committed to assisting people suffering from mental illness and other brain disorders. It includes members of mental health service providers, family members and law enforcement officers.

WHAT IS CIT TRAINING?  This program trains law enforcement officers to effectively and humanely interact with people who are suffering from mental illnesses. It is comprised of classroom instruction as well as practical exercises delivered by mental health professionals and law enforcement instructors.

WHY IS CIT IMPORTANT TO ME?  Because my son, who suffered from a mental illness was involved with the police on various occasions. Because these police officers respond to public safety situations involving persons in psychiatric crisis. These situations have the potential to be high risk to all involved and consequently require a trained response. This training provides the officers with the knowledge and practical skills that can be used when dealing with people who are suffering from a mental illness. Law enforcement officers are the first responders and are responsible for handling the incident in the most professional manner possible. CIT Training provides them with the tools to interact humanely and in a professional manner with the persons suffering from a mental illness.

WHAT CAN A POLICE OFFICER EXPECT TO GAIN FROM THIS TRAINING?   He/she will learn communication skills that can minimize the use of force in many instances, thus protecting both the officers involved as well as the person in crisis. Although the use of force may ultimately be necessary in some situations, it has been proven from experience that the de-escalation skills learned in this training course often reduce the level  of force needed and can save lives.

POLICE OFFICERS WHO HAVE COMPLETED THE COURSE HAVE DESCRIBED THE CIT PROGRAM AS FOLLOWS:-

“This was one of the best courses I have ever taken in my whole law-enforcement career.”

This course gave me a new outlook on how to deal with people suffering from a mental illness.”

” I now realize that there are times when a person’s refusal to comply with a policeman’s commands may be the result of a mental illness.”

“This course provided me with a basic understanding of human behavior as well as alternate methods of responding to those in crisis.”