One-hundred-eighty-two Massachusetts police departments have doubled the overall number police departments that have pledged to join the International Association of Chiefs of Police One Mind Campaign in response to the increasing frequency of interactions between police and individuals with mental health and substance use disorders.
The One Mind Campaign focuses on local communities, public safety organizations and mental health organizations so that the three become “of one mind.” The initiative’s overarching goal is to ensure successful interactions between police officers and those affected by mental illness and includes a commitment to train and certify 100 percent of sworn officers in Mental Health First Aid.
“The One Mind Campaign helps police chiefs organize their approach to serving the mentally ill by emphasizing policy, partnership with community service providers and police training,” said Chief Mark K. Leahy, executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. “Not only have our officers told us that their Mental Health First Aid training was beneficial, we’ve seen the benefits firsthand in their response to mental health calls.”
The National Council for Behavioral Health offers Mental Health First Aid, an actionable public safety training program that helps officers better understand mental illnesses so they can safely de-escalate crises without compromising safety. The program also places emphasis on early intervention, diversion and referral to clinical support.
“The National Council applauds Massachusetts for taking this leap forward,” said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health. “As a police officer, knowing how to identify and respond to a mental health crisis can mean the difference between life and death. What Massachusetts is doing should be recognized and replicated by all.”
Everyone will be touched by mental illness at some point in their lives. Together, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and the National Council for Behavioral Health are ensuring that every officer in the field has the necessary tools to save lives and improve the overall quality of life for people within their communities.