Eleven graduate from crisis intervention training
By Brett Kriebel
CLARION NEWS Writer
Eleven individuals from within Clarion County and beyond graduated from mental health crisis based training they received throughout October in Clarion.
The graduates are now members of Clarion County's Crisis Intervention Team. The Center for Community Resources began offering the class last year, which saw 12 graduates in 2018.
According to CCR senior manager Valerie Snyder, graduates spent five Mondays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. learning about topics such as psychotropic medications, personality disorders, mental health law, developmental disabilities, de-escalation, PTSD and suicide prevention. Presentations given usually ranged from one to two hours.
Graduates toured the Clarion Psychiatric Center and listened to presentations from PTSD recovering veterans and peers speaking on their recoveries with mental health illnesses and drug addictions.
CIT training is based on the "Memphis model." The program includes a focus on pre-arrest jail diversion for those in a mental illness crisis, according to Memphis University.
Clarion County Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Early Intervention administrator Nancy Jeannerat spoke to the graduates on graduation day Nov. 4 at the Clarion Psychiatric Center's community resource room.
Jeannerat noted the importance of the training.
"Historically, our systems have worked rather independently of one another," said Jeannerat, adding law enforcement and mental health entities don't always combine their efforts.
"We've found that as programs like CIT come in, they help us to kind of fill the gaps," Jeannerat said. "The beauty of this is we all get to work together now. We all have a broader mindset about what those folks need. I see us as kind of filling the cracks that people use to fall through."
Clarion County sheriff Rex Munsee and deputy Derek Holt took part in the training courses. Both mentioned an interest in knowing what to do and what not to do in a mental health crisis as key factors in taking the class. Being made aware of crisis agencies officers can contact in such situations was also integral in the process.
Holt said learning how to talk to those an officer suspects of thinking about suicide was a valuable tool gained during the course.
A simulation activity intended to show the daily difficulties for those who experience hearing voices in their heads was illuminating, according to Munsee.
"When we put the earbuds in to simulate it, that was a little disconcerting to hear two or three different voices for half an hour in your ear," said Munsee.
Holt added, "It's interesting that people that hear that have to go through their normal lives while trying to do everyday things. It makes it hard to focus."
Munsee mentioned the training could prove useful even in situations involving individuals not suffering from mental illnesses. He said the de-escalation tactics covered within the class can be utilized when dealing with angry individuals.
The training was funded through sponsorships from Clarion Psychiatric Center, CCR, Clarion County Mental Health Services, Roads to Recovery and the Clarion County Coalition for Suicide Prevention.
According to Snyder, CCR plans to offer the course next year. She added Clarion University is currently writing a grant to help sponsor the course as well.