Friday, April 27, 2012

On the Police Beat at Mental Health Film Festival

THE keys to being an effective CIT officer, however, cannot be taught. They are compassion, respect for human dignity and the ability to listen.

The words are from the narrator of "Georgia Crisis Intervention Team" or CIT. It is a training tool for Georgia law enforcement officials designed to help them effectively interact with individuals challenged with mental health problems. (See video above).

The film will be screened at the five-hour 8th Annual NYC Mental Health Film Festival next week (5 May) in downtown Brooklyn. It is one of three in keeping with the festival’s theme, Crisis Intervention: Interacting with the Police. The theme of this New York City-based festival is timely in light of several recent tragic incidents involving the New York Police Department (NYPD) and mentally ill residents.

Sponsored by Community Access and the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS), the festival's mission is to heighten understanding and awareness of mental illness. During the afternoon, filmmaker Q&As and audience discussions are also scheduled.

If this festival of mainly shorts had an official centerpiece it might be “Community Access: Lives Made Possible.” Hosted by Gabourey Sidibe, the film is an account of stories of New Yorkers who are thriving despite their mental health struggles. Another overcomer is Kathryn Threlkeld. Her personal account of her struggle with a major depressive disorder morphed into a video diary and later the well-received "Burning Blossom," another entry in the series of seven films.

Visit and to learn more about the 8th Annual NYC Mental Health Film Festival.

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