The National Alliance on Mental Illness' Crisis Intervention Team program is a valuable resource for anyone who needs to de-escalate a situation, a speaker told NAMI's McKeesport chapter at its November monthly meeting.
David Pack, a sergeant in the Penn State University police at Greater Allegheny Campus, told NAMI members that the 40-hour training program had helped him "in every aspect of his career."
According to Anna Lisa Haughwout, president of the McKeesport NAMI chapter, Pack said NAMI's CIT training is a resource not just for de-escalating situations involving people with mental health issues, but in all crisis situations.
"We were so blessed to hear from a man whose career has always been spent helping others," Haughwout said. "Since he was five years old, he's wanted to be a police officer and said he's lived his dream helping people and making life safer for all of us."
According to NAMI, about 4 percent of Americans suffer some kind of mental health issue, but many police departments don't have the funding to train police officers.
CIT "is a wonderful educational program offered to our first responders, but unfortunately our police forces and EMTs are understaffed, overworked and the funds aren't available for the 40 hours that is needed for the CIT program," Haughwout said.
Pack said he felt fortunate that the university allocates the funding for police and public safety officer training, according to Haughwout.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is an association of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and volunteers who work in communities nationwide as part of the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization.
The December family support group meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday (Dec. 12) at Luciano's Restaurant, White Oak, Haughwout said. Normally, however, meetings are held on the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. in Room 122 of the Frable Building at Penn State Greater Allegheny Campus, 4000 University Drive.
Persons who want to attend this week's meeting should call (412) 527-6600 and leave a message, or call Haughwout at (412) 824-3882.
Originally published December 09, 2018.