For Immediate Release - September 26, 2016

Baker-Polito Administration Awards $1.4 Million To Expand Jail Diversion Programs

New funding brings the number of towns with trained first responders to 67

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration’s Department of Mental Health (DMH) announced today that $1.4 million has been awarded to expand Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) and Jail Diversion Programs (JDP) as part of a commitment to educating law enforcement and first responders about how to recognize and respond to individuals who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis and direct them into treatment.

The new, three-year service contracts were awarded to police departments in Brookline, Holyoke, Lynn, Winthrop, Salem, Somerville, Pepperell and Tewksbury as well as the Behavioral Health Network, Inc. of Springfield.  Funding for the Brookline Police Department will create a new (CIT) Training and Technical Assistance Center, increasing the state’s total number of these centers from three to four.  

“These grants are an opportunity to strengthen our community support for individuals in the midst of a mental health crisis,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I applaud the communities that have already undergone Crisis Intervention Training and those who are committed to improving the relationship between treatment providers and public safety officials.”

DMH has awarded funding for 30 grants supporting the implementation of CIT training networks and development of law-enforcement based JDP since 2008. This year’s awards increase the number of towns with CIT programs to 67.

“Too often, individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis find themselves in jail rather than treatment and this specialized Crisis Intervention Training is essential in reversing that pattern,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services, Marylou Sudders. “The Jail Diversion Program has expanded the tools law enforcement and community partners can use when approaching individuals in a crisis state, and more importantly has opened the lines of communication between mental health providers and local police departments.”

CIT and JDP programs are designed to provide better options for immediate and effective intervention for first responders. The goal is to keep individuals with mental health challenges out of jail, and steer them toward treatment, where they are more likely to get on the road to recovery. The models of police-based diversion activities supported by DMH involve training for law enforcement from several state agencies, including the Department of Veterans Services, Department of Youth Services, and the Department of Public Health Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.

“We are grateful for the ability of continuing to grow our Jail Diversion Programs across the Commonwealth. These programs are vital to ensuring that our law enforcement personnel are properly trained when called to an active situation with an individual experiencing an acute behavioral health crisis, said DMH Commissioner Joan Mikula. “Our JDP programs potentially reduce physical harm, for both parties involved, promote an increased awareness of mental health conditions, and strengthen our relationships between treatment providers and public safety officers.

About the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model:
Crisis Intervention Team was first developed in Memphis, TN over 25 years ago and is now used around the world. Since the creation of the CIT, nearly every state in the US has at least one CIT program, and it is estimated that there are over 3,000 CIT programs operating across this country. The model consists of an extended curriculum on issues related to mental illness for first responders and dispatchers.  Full implementation of the program model helps support relationships between police and community providers at a local level, helps make connections to crisis evaluation programs, and advises policy development for Departments who wish to promote changes to practice safely and consistently across their workforce. 

About the Department of Mental Health (DMH)
The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health provides services to adults, children and adolescents with long-term or serious mental illness and serious emotional disturbance; provides early and ongoing treatment for mental illness; and conducts research into the causes of and treatments for mental illness. Through state-operated inpatient facilities and community mental health centers and through community services and programs provided by nearly 200 mental health providers, DMH directly serves 29,000 citizens, including about 3,500 children and adolescents, with severe and persistent mental illness and serious emotional disturbance.