Help Not Handcuffs | NAMI

Help Not Handcuffs

A webinar series focused on addressing mental health crises with comprehensive community responses

In NAMI’s Ask the Expert Help Not Handcuffs Webinar Series, NAMI welcomes experts from across the country to present, discuss and explore strategies for diverting people with mental illness away from the justice system and toward the care that they need. This multi-part series will address the history of mental health and the justice system, past and present legislative efforts, several existing jail diversion models, and what we can expect and strive for through programs like these in the future.

As part of NAMI’s mission to engage in advocacy, education, support and public awareness in pursuit of better outcomes for those affected by mental illness, this series aims to provide a comprehensive overview from past to present and beyond of how we’ve arrived at this current moment in mental health and justice.

The series, moderated by NAMI Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ken Duckworth, will include perspectives and insights from clinicians, peers, law enforcement professionals and more.

Below is a complete schedule of topics and dates for this series.

Related Content:

  • Divert from Justice Involvement: Every community should have robust crisis services for people experiencing a psychiatric emergency to receive help and avoid justice system involvement.
  • Divert to What? Community Services That Enhance Diversion: Many communities are committed to diverting people with mental illness away from the criminal justice system. This NAMI publication is meant to help communities identify the gaps and opportunities in the existing system that will enhance their efforts to divert people from justice system involvement.
  • Mental Health by the Numbers: View NAMI’s infographics for the most current statistics on mental illness prevalence, treatment rates and more.
  • Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System: View NAMI’s one-page fact sheet on how people with mental illness are impacted by the criminal justice system.
  • Navigating a Mental Health Crisis: This NAMI publication provides important, potentially life-saving information for people experiencing mental health crises and their loved ones. It outlines what can contribute to a crisis, warning signs that a crisis is emerging, strategies to help de-escalate a crisis, available resources and so much more.

Other Resources:


NAMI Ask the Expert: Help Not Handcuffs Series


Part 1: The Definition of Insanity Documentary & Panel Discussion — Thursday, February 25, 2021
This first webinar of the series will feature The Definition of Insanity, a PBS documentary about the Miami-Dade Criminal Mental Health Project, a team of dedicated public servants working through the courts to redirect people living with mental illness from incarceration to recovery. A guided panel discussion and Q&A will follow.

View the Recording


Part 2: Legislation & Community Models — Thursday, March 25, 2021
This webinar will provide an overview of 988 legislation and the next steps at the federal and state levels. The overview will be followed by the first in a series of presentations of different models of community crisis response.

View the Recording

emergency response

Part 3: Additional Community Models — Thursday, April 22, 2021
This webinar will provide an overview of two additional models of crisis response that have proven effective across the country.

View the Recording


Part 4: Implementing a New System — Thursday, May 20, 2021
This webinar will provide an overview of the crisis model being developed/implemented in Louisiana and will offer background on how to begin local implementation of a new crisis system.

View the Recording

NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).