Law enforcement trained to handle people suffering mental illnes - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Law enforcement trained to handle people suffering mental illness

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Officers from the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office, the Dougherty County Police Department, the Albany Police Department, state parole and probation officers and airport security at the NAMI Crisis-in-Training class Friday Officers from the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office, the Dougherty County Police Department, the Albany Police Department, state parole and probation officers and airport security at the NAMI Crisis-in-Training class Friday
Sue Marlowe, NAMI Crisis-in-Training Coordinator. Sue Marlowe, NAMI Crisis-in-Training Coordinator.
The Dougherty County jail, where the Crisis in Training class was held for South Georgia law enforcement The Dougherty County jail, where the Crisis in Training class was held for South Georgia law enforcement
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Dougherty County law enforcers finished training Friday to deal with people suffering from mental illness.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness hosted a week long class at the Dougherty County jail. 

Instructors say more people with mental health issues are coming to Albany since Southwestern State Hospital closed.  They say role-playing exercises and crisis training teach officers how to deescalate a situation and direct those in need of treatment to proper help. 

"The Centers for Disease Control says one in four people in any given year will have a mental illness.  So it's all around us, we just don't know it," said Sue Marlowe, NAMI Crisis-in-Training Coordinator.

Marlowe said people suffering from depression, bi-polar disorders, PTSD and personality disorders are becoming more common in Albany, but they all share a common challenge for law enforcement.  "One of the biggest is there's another co-occurring illness and the Latin word is anosognosia, and that is they have the inability to recognize that they have an illness," she said.

Dealing with those who can't recognize they're ill, she said, makes convincing them to seek treatment more difficult. "For years and years, Georgia, just like every other state in the country, has been cutting back on mental health services," said Marlowe. "Dollars are spent and voted on by legislatures who have no background typically on mental illness." 

Marlowe said the 40-hour class is taught twice a year and reduces costs to treat mentally ill patients.    She said treatment through jail is seven times more expensive than through the community.

NAMI offers support groups and classes for those in need of help.  For more information about available resources, visit www.nami.org or www.namiga.org

 

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