DMH Prioritizes Training for Law Enforcement Officers During Mental Health Awareness Month

DMH Prioritizes Training for Law Enforcement Officers During Mental Health Awareness Month

[JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI] —During Mental Health Awareness Month and Law Enforcement Appreciation Week, the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) highlights its commitment to enhancing public safety and supporting individuals experiencing mental health crises through Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training and Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) for Public Safety initiatives for law enforcement officers across the state.

Crisis Intervention Teams are the result of collaborative partnerships between law enforcement officers and a variety of agencies, including Community Mental Health Centers, primary health providers, and behavioral health professionals. These teams are crucial in providing effective responses to individuals in mental health crises, diverting them from arrest and connecting them with appropriate treatment and support services.

“People experiencing mental health crises deserve compassionate and effective support,” says Wendy Bailey, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. “CIT training equips law enforcement officers with the necessary understanding and skills to provide the appropriate response, ensuring that people receive the care they need while enhancing community safety.”

CIT officers undergo comprehensive training, including 40 hours of instruction covering mental health diagnoses, medications, substance use issues, and de-escalation techniques. This training emphasizes safety for both officers and people in crisis and fosters a deeper understanding of mental health issues.

Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of crisis intervention in reducing arrests and re-arrests for individuals with serious mental illness. CIT officers are better equipped to identify and divert individuals in crisis to treatment programs, leading to positive outcomes for both the individual and the community. Moreover, CITs have been successful in reducing officer injuries and calls requiring specialized officer teams in both urban and rural communities.

In alignment with the Mississippi Collaborative Response to Mental Health Act, DMH is working diligently to ensure that all county and municipal law enforcement agencies receive MHFA and CIT training. MHFA equips officers with the skills and knowledge needed to recognize and respond to mental health crises, further enhancing their ability to support the communities they serve.

Bailey urges all law enforcement agencies to prioritize CIT and MHFA training, emphasizing the significant impact these initiatives can have on public safety and the well-being of all Mississippians during Mental Health Awareness Month.

For more information on CIT training please contact Linda Foley at For more information about Mental Health First Aid training please contact Mariesha Eason at