CIT Coordination & Mental Health Outreach Receives County Award
The Mental Health & Recovery Board was proud to receive the Celebrate Portage Health Initiative Award along with Coleman Health Services for our Crisis Intervention Team expansion and mental health outreach services. Congratulations to the other wonderful nominees for their outstanding work in this category - Children's Advantage, UH Portage Medical Center, and Townhall II.
In 2021, Portage County’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) expanded from the annual officer training week to building a better community-based system by bringing together law enforcement, mental health professionals, and other partners to improve community responses to mental health crises and to help people get into the services they need.
The Mental Health & Recovery Board initially received a grant through the Ohio Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence to fund a team of professionals to coordinate the Portage’s County Crisis Intervention Team and now these positions are funded by the Board with local levy dollars.
The CIT Coordinator worked with each police department to establish a CIT lead at each agency and to review and develop their mental health policies and procedures. The team developed a data collection system with each police department. Contact sheets are filled out by law enforcement after responding to an incident with a person experiencing mental health issues. Monthly reports are generated and shared with each agency and the team. Data collection is important to determine the volume of mental health crisis calls happening, what types of crises are happening, and whether the respected agencies are a part of the team and being utilized. Knowing the volume of calls happening can help agencies understand what their staff size should be to appropriately address the consumers' needs. The CIT Coordinator reviews the reports and can help advise if there are services that aren’t being utilized by that agency and then connecting the agency with the services.
These efforts led to the creation of the Mental Health Outreach Program. This program is a collaboration with Coleman Health Services. An officer is prompted to make a referral for an individual who may be needing services as they are completing the contact sheet after responding to a mental health incident. A Coleman crisis specialist will respond and will contact the individual at their home or by phone to share resources and determine if mental heath services are appropriate for the individual.
In the short period of time the Outreach program has been in place, police officers have already noticed a difference with a few of the individuals who are not calling for emergency services as often.