On March 2nd team members from Makin’ It Happen joined State Police Major Russell Conte (Ret.) and representatives from the Suicide Prevention Council for a presentation on Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) developed for first responders. Major Conte is a 33-year veteran of the New Hampshire State Police who now works for the State of New Hampshire as a Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator. Major Conte presented NAMI NH’s CIT initiative which is available to first responders. According to NAMI NH, the lack of mental health crisis services across the U.S. has resulted in law enforcement officers serving as first responders to most crises. A Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program is an innovative, community-based approach to improve the outcomes of these encounters.  

According to Major Conte this training came about when local officials discovered that police involved shootings in New Hampshire over the past ten years occurred 50% of the time with individuals struggling with mental health issues. While New Hampshire has a very low rate of police shootings the statistic was higher than the national average of 40% (of officer involved shootings involving those experiencing mental health issues).  

Russ explains that the main goal of the CIT program is to create connections between law enforcement, mental health providers, hospital emergency services and individuals with mental illness and their families.  

The CIT Program is 40 hours onsite at police departments. Classes take place across the state with the vast majority happening in Concord. Everything is provided for attendees including meals. Faculty includes many that have served as first responder roles in New Hampshire. They have first-hand knowledge of what the landscape is like throughout the state for law enforcement and other first responders.  

The program hopes to train over 400 first responders in the next year so that they can recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness, effectively de-escalate situations, and make appropriate referrals to community partners.  

If you are a first responder in the Greater Manchester Region that would like to receive training, reach out to the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Program, contact NAMI New Hampshire’s Susan Allen-Samuel, CIT Coordinator at [email protected]

Written by Jane Skantze, Community Impact Coordinator at Makin’ It Happen | March 17th, 2023