TDMHSAS and TDOC Receive Funding to Study and Expand Crisis Intervention Teams

Monday, October 30, 2017 | 9:06am

NASHVILLE—The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) and the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to study, develop strategy, and expand the network of Crisis Intervention Teams.

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model aims to improve outcomes for people experiencing a mental health crisis by enhancing communication among individuals and families, law enforcement, mental health providers, and medical professionals.

“We know that this model works, and this funding is going to go a long way to toward spreading it across the state,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams.  “By pre-positioning the resources a person needs before they reach that crisis state, we can help keep them out of the jail and make sure they get the help they need.”

In Tennessee, the prevalence of mental health issues among inmates is significantly higher than in the larger population.  TDOC reports that 28 percent of its inmates are dealing with mental health issues.

“The crisis intervention model gives our officers an additional layer of training that protects the inmates and the officers,” said TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker.  “Use of this model will lead to safer prisons and will truly enhance public safety.”

The implementation of the CIT model began in Memphis in 1988.  Since then, it has spread to 18 of Tennessee’s 95 counties.  Through this grant, TDMHSAS has set three objectives:

  1. Create a statewide CIT in Tennessee Task Force
  2. Conduct a comprehensive statewide assessment of the current usage, policy, and practice of the CIT model
  3. ​Develop a strategic statewide expansion and sustainability plan for CIT in Tennessee

“The end goal of this program is to have the data to show where we are and what needs to improve and to develop a plan to sustainably expand CIT to more communities in Tennessee,” said TDMHSAS Director of Consumer Affairs and Peer Recovery Services Lisa Ragan, MSSW.

TDMHSAS will contract with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Tennessee to carry out the CIT expansion.  NAMI will work with CIT consultant Major Sam Cochran who was coordinator of the Memphis Police CIT for 20 years.  He now works as a nationwide consultant and trainer for CIT programs and chairs the CIT International Board.