BILLINGS – A group of 23 new graduates completed this year’s Crisis Intervention academy in Billings Friday afternoon.
After 40 hours of extensive training, the graduates are now equipped with skills to reach a solution during a mental health crisis.
“It’s been an exciting week to actually get to go through the class and participate. I’ve been on the advisory committee for several years helping bring in expert panels, those who are experts in their field and share their knowledge on different levels. To actually get to do the hands-on has been absolutely amazing,” said Christi Beals, the chief nursing officer at the Rimrock Foundation, and graduate of the academy.
This year’s graduates come from a variety of backgrounds and agencies, including the Yellowstone County Detention Center, the Community Crisis Center, the Rimrock Foundation, probation and parole, the Downtown Billings Alliance, the Billings Police Department and a Yellowstone County civil servant.
“It’s nice to see that all these people are wanting to come together to do this training together and help people because we’re all dealing with the same people at the end of the day. The person that just got released from jail is now at the crisis center. So that training has to be able to follow that person from agency to agency. It’s nice to see these agencies care enough to put their people through it to be able to help the community in the way they need help,” said Gabriell Thompson, a Montana Department of Corrections probation and parole officer.
This year’s academy marks 15 years since the program arrived in Billings. The first graduating class traveled to Memphis, where the program originated.
A Crisis Intervention Team is a community-based approach to improve the outcome of mental health crisis encounters.
“We’ve seen people in chaos as situations of mental health crisis continue to rise. Working with the law enforcement, making sure they have a skill set. It’s usually an escalated situation with a lot of emotion behind it. So teaching them the mindset and the mind frame to approach the situation, to stay calm, to meet them where they’re at, to learn more about the situation. To watch them do that and practice those skills, it’s really exciting and you know that if you were ever the recipient of that, if it was your loved one having a mental health crisis, that’s how you would want them to be approached and treated,” Beals said.
The team based in Billings consists of the National Alliance of Mental Illness Billings, the Community Crisis Center, the Rimrock Foundation, the Billings Police Department, the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, and probation and parole.
“Our goal is really to share a partnership with mental health providers and working with our local law enforcement. Our culmination of patients and clients are really all the same, and so getting to share how we can be partners in the community has been awesome to watch the different skill sets and the professions collide,” Beals said.
Academies are also held in Bozeman, Missoula, Butte and Helena. Each serves surrounding communities.