Mental Illness Workshop Focuses on ‘Cross Systems Mapping’ - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Mental Illness Workshop Focuses on ‘Cross Systems Mapping’

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Community leaders from all over Virginia met up Thursday in Charlottesville to try to find a permanent solution to a tough problem: mental illness.

The workshop, held at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel, focused on a method called “cross systems mapping.” When people with potentially dangerous mental issues need to be treated, lines of communication need to be opened, and that is when cross systems mapping can help. Its goal is simply to get behavioral help to people who desperately need it by bringing agencies together to share information.

County representatives spent time Thursday comparing methods of detection and treatment. Many police officers in Albemarle County have already received crisis intervention training to learn how to safely interact with and identify a mentally unstable individual.

Jim Tobin, executive director of the Piedmont Community Services Board, which serves some counties south and west of Augusta County, says the program has had a very positive impact on his community.

“Interdisciplinary dialogue is common in my community today. I think that's typical of most communities in Virginia as a result of cross systems mapping,” Tobin said.

The program involves education at every level of the criminal justice system, from the police to the judges to the jails. This gives officials the most possible opportunities to identify a problem and get the necessary treatment.

Tobin says the next steps for his community are to work with officials in the prison system on discharging people with mental illness and providing housing for them once they re-enter society.

Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Press Release

RICHMOND, VA – On Thursday, November 21, Virginia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) will host the Cross Systems Mapping Initiative, a training and networking event for key stakeholders in the criminal justice and behavioral health fields. Participants will come from 40 areas across Virginia to discuss accomplishments, challenges, and goals to improve outcomes for individuals with mental illness who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

The Cross Systems Mapping Initiative aims to identify and effectively assist individuals with behavioral health issues who are in the criminal justice system. By literally mapping how treatment and law enforcement coincide, the Cross Systems Mapping Initiative identifies gaps in services, works to reduce duplication of efforts, and creates an action plan with attainable goals and specific steps to improve services in communities across Virginia.

“When law enforcement and behavioral health practitioners work together to improve outcomes, Virginians who are in the criminal justice system and suffering from mental illness have improved access to the services and help they need,” said DBHDS Commissioner Jim Stewart. “The Cross Systems Mapping Initiative puts each community’s interactions between law enforcement and individuals with mental illness under a microscope and develops collaborative solutions that divert individuals from the criminal justice system whenever possible, improve linkages to treatment and enhance community safety.”

In 2008, a group of 300 criminal justice, behavioral health and consumer advocate stakeholders created Virginia’s Cross Systems Mapping Initiative to strengthen local criminal justice systems and behavioral health initiatives.

Key Facts:

  • 40 Workshops held across Virginia
  • 40 community criminal justice and behavioral health systems maps created
  • 40 community action plans disseminated
  • 98 cities and counties in Virginia ‘mapped’
  • 73 percent of the population living in a community that has participated in a Cross Systems Mapping workshop
  • roughly 1,400 criminal justice, behavioral health and consumers and community members trained

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