RHODE ISLAND: Rhode Island Police Learn How to Respond to People Struggling with Mental Illness
Rhode Island is among the first states to require that all new law enforcement officials receive training in mental health first aid. In an effort to direct individuals with mental illness away from the criminal justice system and into treatment, police officers are learning tools for effectively responding to mental health emergencies, such as listening, de-escalating a crisis, and providing assistance. Trisha Brouwer, who works for Gateway Healthcare in Pawtucket and partners with the police in responding to mental health emergencies, said that mental health first aid is comparable to CPR in its potential to save lives. According to Brouwer, training law enforcement in how to respond to crisis situations could result in fewer arrests and more access to treatment for people with mental illness.
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