National Alliance on Mental Illness
page printed from
(800) 950-NAMI;

Feature Story: Youth Needs Highlighted at the CIT National Conference

NAMI National, with generous support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, supported two sessions on crisis intervention for children and youth at this month’s CIT National Conference in Atlanta Crisis intervention programs designed to meet the needs of children and youth are emerging in several communities across the country, as established CIT programs start to expand their expertise to identifying and assisting this population.  

NAMI National’s youth track featured two CIT programs. The first speaker, Keri Fitzpatrick, is the Manager of Colorado Crisis Intervention Teams and the Manager of their Children in Crisis (CIC) program, which offers a 24-hour block of training on addressing the needs of children and youth in crisis. The training is offered to school resource officers (SROs) and others who interact with children. SROs work with the schools to de-escalate a crisis and get children treatment if necessary. The CIC program has been in existence since 2002, and is now undergoing revision. In her presentation, Fitzpatrick emphasized the importance of developmentally-appropriate training and taking an "ecological" perspective, -- that is, educating all of the people who interact with children in a variety of settings. The presentation was entitled: "Breaking the Pipeline from Schools to Juvenile Justice through Effective Crisis Intervention."

The second youth track session featured the Chicago Police Department’s CIT Coordinator, Lt. Jeff Murphy, and Officer Kurt Gawrisch. Chicago is in the process of developing a 40-hour advanced CIT training focused on the needs of children and youth. The Chicago program will also primarily work with school resources officers, and builds on Chicago’s basic CIT training. The program will train officers in all of Chicago’s police districts, and will include, in one district, a simultaneous roll-out of NAMI’s Parents and Teachers as Allies school-based education program. In his presentation, Lt. Murphy emphasized the importance of working with all the relevant stakeholders to make sure that the program is sustainable, addresses problems with the entire system, and meets the needs of children, families, schools and law enforcement. The presentation was entitled, "Strategies for Adapting CIT to Youth."

Coming Soon!  NAMI’s Child and Adolescent Action Center is partnering with NAMI’s CIT Resource Center to develop a white paper and fact sheets to help NAMI members and other community members advocate for effective crisis intervention for youth in their communities. Look out for these materials in CIT in Action and at in February!

Other Highlights from the Conference:

Keynotes speakers at the conference included:

  • Dr. Xavier Amador, a psychiatrist and former Tucson Police Department officer, who is the author of “I am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help!” and an expert on effective communication with people do not have insight into their mental illness.
  • Major Sam Cochran, ret., the former CIT Coordinator for the Memphis Metropolitan Police Department, and currently Instructor at the University of Memphis’ Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice.
  • Eric Hipple,former Detroit Lions quarterback and author of the recent book “Real Men Do Cry.”   Hipple currently serves as outreach coordinator for the University of Michigan Depression Center.

NAMI National also organized a session entitled “Where’s the Money”, which addressed the question of how to get funding to start your CIT program, and how to sustain it. The speakers, Carol Carothers, Executive Director of NAMI Maine;   Robert Tiner, Criminal Justice Coordinator at NAMI Maine, and Krista Dunn, Grants Manager at CIT Utah, focused on strategies for applying for grants. The speakers discussed the difference between start-up and long-term funding, and offered strategies for expanding your CIT program statewide.

Slides and handouts from all CIT National Conference workshops and plenaries, where available, are posted on the NAMI Georgia website.

Congratulations to NAMI Georgia, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the entire Georgia Crisis Intervention Team on a great conference!