Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Programs
The lack of mental health crisis services across the U.S. has resulted in law enforcement officers serving as first responders to most crises. A Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program is an innovative, community-based approach to improve the outcomes of these encounters.
In over 2,700 communities nationwide, CIT programs create connections between law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency services and individuals with mental illness and their families. Through collaborative community partnerships and intensive training, CIT improves communication, identifies mental health resources for those in crisis and ensures officer and community safety.
The Benefits of CIT
Not only can CIT programs bring community leaders together, they can also help keep people with mental illness out of jail and in treatment, on the road to recovery. That’s because diversion programs like CIT reduce arrests of people with mental illnesswhile simultaneously increasing the likelihood that individuals will receive mental health services. CIT programs also:
- Give police officers more tools to do their job safely and effectively. Research shows that CIT is associated with improved officer attitude and knowledge about mental illness. In Memphis, for example, CIT resulted in an 80% reduction of officer injuries during mental health crisis calls.
- Keep law enforcement’s focus on crime. Some communities have found that CIT has reduced the time officers spend responding to a mental health call. This puts officers back into the community more quickly.
- Produce cost savings. It’s difficult to estimate exactly how much diversion programs can save communities. But incarceration is costly compared to community-based treatment. For example in Detroit an inmate with mental illness in jail costs $31,000 a year, while community-based mental health treatment costs only $10,000 a year.
NAMI promotes the expansion of CIT programs nationwide by providing NAMI Affiliates and State Organizations, local law enforcement, mental health providers and other community leaders with information and support about CIT implementation. NAMI also works with local and national leaders to establish standards and promote innovation in CIT.
Become an Advocate
Whether you are a law enforcement officer, mental health professional, elected official or person directly affected by mental illness, you can become an advocate for changing the way your community responds to mental heal crisis. Learn more about bringing CIT to your community or other efforts to improve mental health services. Reach out to your NAMI Affiliate or State Organization to identify these efforts. To keep up to date on national advocacy, join our advocacy list.