National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Feature Story: NAMI Promotes Crisis Intervention for Youth
Contributors: Dana Markey and Laura Usher
An alarming number of youth with serious mental health treatment needs continue to enter the juvenile justice system because of the lack of psychiatric crisis intervention services available in schools and communities. Schools in particular have proven to be a pipeline into the juvenile justice system with school personnel contacting law enforcement when students engage in inappropriate behaviors as a result of a psychiatric crisis.
In response to this national crisis, NAMI’s Child and Adolescent Action Center and CIT Resource Center are working on a new initiative, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, to promote CIT programs that focus on responding to youth in psychiatric crisis in schools and in the community.
As part of the project, NAMI is publishing a guide to CIT for Youth programs for children’s mental health advocates. This guide will include information about crisis intervention programs that exist and highlight key components of a successful CIT for Youth program. The guide will be accompanied by two fact sheets that will provide advocates and law enforcement personnel with practical strategies for how to implement and promote these programs in their states and communities. Our research findings will be presented at NAMI’s Leadership Institute in February, and the guide and fact sheets will be available online at NAMI’s CIT Resource Center website later in February.
Until recently, most CIT programs focused on adults. Several innovative communities have begun adapting and expanding their CIT programs to better meet the needs of youth. These communities are highlighted in NAMI’s guide, and leaders from these communities were also invited to present at the 2008 CIT National Conference as part of NAMI’s new initiative.
One such innovative community is
There are many steps children’s mental health advocates can take to help promote and facilitate the implementation of CIT for Youth programs, including:
Advocates can also play an important role once CIT for Youth programs are brought to their states or communities, including providing the youth or family perspective in CIT trainings, serving on the program’s steering committee, and providing valuable feedback on the program’s effectiveness.
For more information on NAMI’s CIT for Youth initiative, please contact Laura Usher, NAMI CIT Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or