(ST. LOUIS – June 11, 2019) A member of the St. Louis County Police Department volunteered their time to train more than 40 people about Mental Health First Aid. The training was conducted as part of a new partnership between the St. Louis County Police and Independence Center, a local nonprofit community behavioral health organization that provides wraparound support to those living with serious mental illness.
The training teaches community members how to recognize and respond to someone experiencing a mental health crisis until an officer or appropriate professional arrives. St. Louis County officer, Lieutenant Jeremy Romo said the St. Louis County Police Department was the first department in Missouri to dedicate a full time staff to the Crisis Intervention Team 16 years ago and now other departments across the state are recognizing the benefit of their innovative first-responder approach.
“This is a training model we use for our officers as well as the general public,” said Officer Romo. “Our goal is to help people learn the signs of someone who is in mental distress so that they handle that situation appropriately and help the person get the care they need sooner- rather than unknowingly escalating the situation or delaying access to necessary medical treatments while they are in the criminal justice system.”
Officer Romo said the St. Louis County PD has taken a One Mind Pledge which means they are committed to training 100 percent of their officers in Mental Health First Aid in addition to ensuring that roughly one quarter of their officers also receive some Crisis Intervention Training.
Independence Center Executive Director Mark Bethell said this training also helped their members and staff workers feel more confident about how to handle a crisis situation. “I think this training gave all of us some reassurance that we are properly trained to handle a situation if it occurs. I think it also gave our members some validation because it shows that people who are experiencing a mental health crisis need help and compassion.”
Independence Center is a community-based rehabilitation program for adults with serious and persistent mental illnesses in the St. Louis area, built on the Clubhouse model of psychosocial rehabilitation. Its mission is to provide all the services and resources a person with a serious and persistent mental illness needs to manage their symptoms, find belonging and purpose and gain the independence to live a healthy, quality life. For more information about Independence Center, Mental Health First Aid or the Crisis Intervention Team Program, contact Jessica Williams at 618-772-2349.