Crisis ready: Mississippi corrections team train for mental health emergencies

Published 10:34 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Some Mississippi Department of Corrections employees have positioned themselves to better assist individuals with emergencies involving mental health.

The first Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) class graduated at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County. Seventeen employees participated in 40 hours of training during the week of February 26 through March 1. The program is part of a collaboration between the MDOC and the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (MDMH).

Christiane Williams, MDOC mental health training coordinator, said the employee graduates will take their training into the areas of the facility and be ready to respond when they encounter an individual having a mental health crisis.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“This training is a valuable resource that gives our staff another tool to properly respond if they encounter an employee or inmate in distress with mental health symptoms,” Williams said. “Participants covered material that helps them recognize the signs and symptoms so they can provide the best immediate assistance. These trainings will improve the quality of life for staff and incarcerated persons.”

The program was six months in the making as a community-based effort. Plans for additional training include taking the program to other facilities in the MDOC system.

Williams said all law enforcement agencies are expected to complete the CIT program and MDOC was the first agency to implement and complete the training.

Mental Health Executive Director Wendy D. Bailey, the speaker for the MDOC graduation, re-affirmed support for the MDOC efforts to provide the mental health training.

“As I told the graduates (on March 5), I hope they are the first of many more correctional officers to come that expand their knowledge on mental health and their deescalation techniques to help with the safety and positive outcomes for the inmates they are working with and their fellow team members,” Bailey said to Commissioner Cain.