Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

Mental Illness Training

Posted by Maggie on January 11, 2008

I have been hard-pressed to find anything blogworthy the past couple days. News coverage of most criminal cases is minimal, and if I start an article that looks promising, it ends up giving hardly any actual information. More and more, journalism is frustrating to me as a person and a blogger.

Anyway, I did find an interesting article today out of Athens about law enforcement in Oconee County getting mental illness training. A lot of people that get arrested every day are arrested because of their mental illness. I had a client once who would end up with some horrendous charge whenever he was pulled over for speeding due to his paranoid schizophrenia. He couldn’t even get a ticket without losing it and when you lose it with a police officer present, you’re probably going to get cuffed.

The Oconee officers got a one-day mental illness primer of sorts, including information on how to interact with the mentally ill and even a schizophrenia-simulator. The agency providing the services is one I’ve worked with before, Advantage Behavioral, and they’re encouraging other law enforcement agencies to take their courses. I hope they do. Even better, Advantage gives Athens officers week-long training courses which have led to increased referrals in those areas. Community based care is a better approach then locking up the mentally ill. I’m glad to see these kinds of measures in place.

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