Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Crisis Intervention

My favorite college course this semester is probably my crisis intervention class. I love it because it is so applicable to every day life. Everyone needs to be valued and feel important, and everyone goes through a crisis at some point in their life. I've taken several human services/counseling/psyc classes, and this is by far one of my favorites. Tonight's topics felt really potent.

First we discussed mental illness in relation to law enforcement and those who are incarcerated. It was really interesting to study the reactions of policemen who have crisis/mental health training compared to those who don't. There's a high percentage of mentally ill people incarcerated for misdemeanor crimes by officers with no intervention training, and the number drops dramatically (7% I believe) for arrests when an officer DOES have special training. The difference is the ability to recognize mental illness and take the alternative route of helping the offender into a rehabilitation center.

We also did a study of the mentally ill who are in prisons. It's amazing how prisons are just holding spots for people--the majority are not bent on rehabilitation whatsoever. If a person with a mental illness does not have money or resources, then they don't get the medications they need, and their disease normally just deteriorates the person, when some simple medications would really fix a lot of the issues going on.

We segwayed into the issue of homelessness by talking about how many people who are mentally ill become homeless. It's amazing to hear the stories and situations. We watched another amazing video clip about homeless people who are mentally ill. In the video was a really striking and convicting statement:

"Homeless people who are mentally ill are worse off than stray dogs. At least stray dogs are picked up and given shelter. We don't even do that for these human beings."

I was really moved and bothered by that statement. I guess I never paid much attention to the issue of mental illness and the chain reaction that can happen in our society. It's amazing what a broken system we have.

I love my class because it opens my eyes to the worlds of other people and situations outside of my own life. It gets me out of my bubble. I feel like it also really helps me prepare for talking to people on a day-to-day basis.

We had to do this exercise where we got in pairs, and for 5 minutes, we had to role play a person in a crisis calling a hotline, and the other person was the hotline crisis worker. It was SO HARD. When I was portraying the crisis worker, a solution that seemed like an "well, duh" situation became me stammering and wondering, "How do I convey this concept to a person in the midst of confusion, pain, and possibly even danger?" Or better yet, "How do I guide this conversation to help this person be able to come to a safe and wise solution on their own and in their own terms?" It was NOT EASY. You can't just go into the advice-giver, "this is cut and dry, now do it" mentality. I've really been forced to look through the eyes and minds of other people lately and get outside myself. It's been challenging, but SO GOOD for me.

I'm not intending to become a crisis worker, so I guess I'm just really hoping to leave this class a better friend, a better wife, daughter, co-worker, and overall, better human being with a greater understanding of others and how to be a safe place for people in crisis.

Man, I really love this class!

1 comment:

Amy said...

I always wanted to take that class when I was at Bethel, but it never worked out. Glad you are enjoying it so much! Like you said, so practical for every day life!