This past Friday, March 21st The Avielle Foundation had the opportunity to take part in a crisis intervention training course offered in Western Massachusetts at the Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield. Dr. Jeremy Richman, CEO of the Aviell Foundation, was invited to provide a 90 minute presentation and discussion on the science of violence and the critical need to foster brain health research and community education. This presentation and discussion came on the last day of a one week Crisis Intervention Team training provided to local law enforcement and first responders.
The goal of this outstanding course, was to have brain health professionals educate participants about different brain illnesses, co-occurring disorders, and medications and their side effects. People suffering with brain illnesses and their families were brought in, throughout the 40 hour course, to put a face on the illness and those that it affects. Role-playing was also used to facilitate emersion, empathy, and practical experience in realistically complex situations. The course was designed and developed by Reena Bucknell, Professor of criminal justice; Brenda Carpenter, Executive Director of National Alliance of Mental Illness Berkshire County; and Kelly Mulcahy Kemp, Asst. District Attorney of Berkshire County. The curriculum and design were based on the Memphis Model of Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) which has proven effective in developing positive perceptions and increased confidence among police officers with respect to brain illnesses; improving crisis response times; increasing jail diversion among those with brain illnesses; improving the likelihood of treatment continuity with community based providers; and impacting psychiatric symptomatology for those suffering from a serious brain illness as well as substance abuse disorders; all while significantly decreasing injury rates to police officers and first responders.
Thank you to Berkshire Community College and the local first responder course participants, for leading the way and championing brain health awareness to prevent violence, build empathy, and to engage communities. And thank you for including the Avielle Foundation in your efforts.