Press Releases

NAMI Manual for Police, School Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) to Help Children and Teens;70 Percent of Youth in Juvenile Justice System Have Mental Illness

Jun 22 2011

June 22, 2011

Arlington, VA -- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has published a crisis intervention team (CIT) manual for families, police, schools, mental health professionals and others to build local programs to help youth with mental illness.

The 150-page "CIT for Youth" manual is available at and recommended to civic leaders working with schools and police.

CIT for youth programs improve responses to youth in psychiatric crisis. They rely on de-escalation techniques and community partnerships that connect young people to treatment rather than to arrest and detention.

"Adult CIT programs exist in 40 states, but an urgent need exists for programs focused specifically on youth," said NAMI Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick. "NAMI's manual is aimed at building community partnerships to support police training and diversion practices. Schools must play an important role."

The manual provides case studies, worksheets and tools for planning and implementation to start a local CIT for youth program. It was developed by NAMI's Child and Adolescent Action Center (CAAC) and CIT Technical Assistance Resource Center (CTARC) under a grant from the Lincy Foundation.

Key background facts include:

  • Thirteen percent of youth have mental illness severe enough to impair daily functioning.
  • Fifty percent of lifetime mental illness begins by age 14. Only about one-half of youth with mental illness get the treatment they need.
  • About half of those ages 14 or older with mental illness drop out of high school.
  • Seventy percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have mental illness, but the U.S. Department of Justice has found that juvenile facilities do not adequately treat them.
  • Based on adult CIT experience, individuals with mental illness diverted into treatment receive more counseling, medication and other forms of treatment than others who are jailed or imprisoned.
  • CIT-trained officers are 25 percent more likely to transport an individual for psychiatric treatment than other officers. Diversions by police reduce first arrests and second arrests are reduced by 58 percent.

About NAMI

NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

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