ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Last year, Minnesota passed a law requiring law enforcement to take a minimum amount of crisis prevention training, preparing officers responding to a mental health crisis.
"They have to come in to all sorts of difficult crisis situations, not just dealing with mental health. And, what we've learned is that you really have better outcomes when you've had this specific training," said Sue Abderholden is the Executive Director of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Besides the mandatory prevention program, Abderholden says, Minnesota also has a 40-hour program called "Crisis Intervention Training;" it's intense, actors are used so officers can get a hands-on experience, training them for a different type of response.
"Well, when it's a mental health crisis you actually want to go in slow and you want to come in more empathetic and you really want to slow everything down so that you can de-escalate the situation," said Abderholden.
The Carver County Sheriff's Office said today: all of their officers have had the mandatory training, while the vast majority have been though the 40-hour class with everyone scheduled to be done by September.
"I mean, I don't like to ever go in and kind of second guess the situation or what a police officer did. I really want us to learn from that so that it doesn't happen again," said Abderholden.
And, Abderholden says, families can learn, too; her organization has a card with reminders on how to communicate with your loved one and police.
"When calling the police for a mental health emergency what kind of things should you say to make sure that they know what they're getting into, so that they can come in knowing someone's having a mental health crisis, here's the steps that I need to take," said Abderholden. "We need to really continue to build our mental health system. It's not broken, we've just never finished building it."
There's a Mental Health Crisis Service in the metro, it's just one number for anyone: "**Crisis."
Or you can text "MN" to 741741 to be connected to a counselor.