I have just returned from the CIT International Conference, where I met so many who are passionate about their crisis and mental health work – and though I came there to share the family view, I learned so much more than I offered. And yet – everyone who met thanked me for being willing to share our story, and the family point-of-view when crisis hits. Wow. (No, thank you…)
Who was there? Police officers, mental health workers, detectives, Police Chiefs, Psychiatric Nurses, Psychiatrists, corrections officer, security guards, consumers, and family members like David Kaczynski, who spoke about his sibling experience as brother of the so-called “Unabomber” – though that relationship had so much more to it. David’s love for his brother was clear, as was his agony over his brothers’ illness: schizophrenia.
When my son Ben was in the first stages of recurring psychosis, when we were waiting for him to get “sick enough” to finally earn a bed in a psychiatric unit (don’t get me started on this), we had many encounters with our local police officers while Ben – and we – were in crisis.
I am so happy that these officers were trained in crisis intervention – for their kindness and empathy toward Ben, Ali and me made our traumatic situation more bearable. And – even more importantly – their CIT (Crisis Intervention Training) made it possible to avoid the trauma-upon-trauma pile-up of emotions that could have escalated the crisis instead.
Lucky for us, we did not have to experience needless “super-escalation.”
Lucky for us, our town’s officers were either CIT-trained, or listened to the feedback and tips of those on the force who were.
To those who have taken the time to learn and choose Crisis Intervention Techniques over “Power” actions that are also an option, I thank you. Your kindness and willingness to empathize has made all the difference for this family.
Here’s a radio news story on CIT in Connecticut (my home state) from NPR affiliate WSHU – where I sometimes work as classical music host or newscaster. Mark Herz also did an interview with me on Ben Behind His Voices.