Crisis Intervention Team unveils mental health wristbands

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The York County Crisis Intervention Team on Thursday presented wristbands wearable by people with a mental health condition so first responders are able to identify someone with a mental health condition during a crisis.

The wristbands are a response to an inquiry from law enforcement officers who asked if there was something that people with a mental health condition could wear that would identify them to an emergency responder when responding to a call.

CIT wristbands are similar to health alert bracelets that let responders know of someone’s diagnoses such as diabetes or allergies. An organization in Georgia, Mental Health Alert Wristbands Inc., had already started the mental health wristband concept when York County’s team was workshopping ideas.

The wristbands are to serve as a symbol for police officers and those wearing them that a trained CIT officer is there to help them. This can de-escalate a crisis situation and quickly form a bond between the officer and the person wearing the wristband. The bands are a unity for people living with a mental health condition to know they’re not alone. This can help end the stigma surrounding mental health.

Wristbands were initially distributed into the community beginning with CIT officers at the York Area Regional Police building. More distribution sites will include York Hospital and UPMC. As more wristbands become available, more mental health professionals will get them. NAMI York-Adams Counties PA had a funding campaign to purchase 5,000 wristbands. The group is participating in Give Local York.

The Crisis Intervention Team, known as CIT, is a training program that creates a team of law enforcement officers and first responders who can help guide interactions between themselves and people living with a mental health condition in a crisis situation. More than 250 officers and first responders have been trained by CIT since York County implemented it in 2010.


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