Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,201,000)
Thousands of Rhode Islanders make calls to 911 dispatch every year for assistance during a mental health related crisis. Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) benefit Rhode Islanders that rely on police during a crisis encounter. Thundermist Health Center, in partnership with local and regional steering committees and lead planners, will expand CIT training and program development opportunities to all cities and towns across Rhode Island; provide up to 24 training academies, technical assistance to police departments to develop "mental health call" response strategies and protocols; create workflows for 911 and local department dispatch to ensure that CIT trained officers are being dispatched to appropriate calls; partner with people with lived experience and mental health and substance use organizations to ensure trainings and policies are trauma informed and recovery centered; and work with municipal leaders to develop sustainable funding streams.
Populations most at-risk for developing serious behavioral health conditions include people with lower incomes, domestic violence survivors, patients with dual diagnoses (mental health and substance use), those with trauma histories, and people experiencing homelessness. Given significant service gaps in Rhode Island’s mental health system, these populations face many barriers to receiving effective behavioral healthcare. CIT is more than a training program. It is also a community level framework for the behavioral health crisis system across all sequential intercepts, and especially at intercept 0 and 1. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, police departments across Rhode Island report significant increases in mental health related calls. Providence, RI Police Department, for example, recently reported an increase of 92% in call volume related to mental health from 2018 to 2020. It is not surprising then that people with behavioral health conditions are more likely to be involved with the Department of Corrections whether that be incarceration, probation, or parole. Objectives of CIT are improved outcomes for those experiencing crisis, including diversion to treatment, reduced criminal justice involvement, reduced use of force, reduced police and public injuries, and improved officer wellness and mental health.