(Durham, NC) – Alliance Behavioral Healthcare will partner with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office to give Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to all 520 of its detention officers and nurses.
Alliance’s eight-hour MHFA course teaches a five-step action plan that guides trainees through the process of reaching out and offering appropriate support to a person in need until professional treatment is secured or the crisis resolves. Just as CPR helps people without clinical training assist someone having a heart attack, MHFA prepares people to interact with a person experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
The partnership with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office is a continuation of Alliance’s commitment to increase the safety of both citizens and first responders by providing either MHFA or Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training. CIT training teaches police and other emergency how to recognize and respond appropriately to individuals in behavioral health crisis so that they may de-escalate dangerous situations and refer individuals, when appropriate, to treatment instead of emergency departments or jail. In 2017, Alliance worked with the Raleigh Police Department to train every employee – officers as well as non-sworn employees – in one of the two trainings.
“As part of our CIT partnerships, which we’ve been doing now for 10 years, our goal has been to get 20 percent of patrol officers in each district and each municipality certified in CIT,” said Ann Oshel, head of Community Relations for Alliance. “We have achieved that goal, including EMS and campus police from our community colleges and universities, bringing a lot of different agencies into the fold of CIT.”
Oshel said that the training is essential in a detention setting, which can be stressful by nature. “If you’re already off your meds, and you’re already pretty agitated and escalated then it’s just prime time to completely go into crisis. And even if you don’t already have a mental illness, just the nature of being in jail and what you’re being charged with can be enough to bring on some symptoms.”
“I can’t thank Alliance Behavioral Healthcare enough for their commitment to help train our detention officers in Mental Health First Aid, said Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison. “ To train our detention officers is something I have wanted to do for a long time.”
The training will take place in July and August and will require three Alliance staff members training detention employees four days a week for four weeks
Alliance is a public behavioral health managed care organization, or MCO, with responsibility for the authorization of services for almost 440,000 Medicaid-eligible and uninsured individuals and a population of 1.8 million in Durham, Wake, Cumberland and Johnston counties.
More information about Alliance Mental Health First Aid can be found at alliancebhc.org/about-alliance/mental-health-first-aid/.