To the editor:
In the last few years our community has been deeply affected by the death of a mentally ill man, Doug Ostling. A lawsuit has come and gone, and grief and division still remain with us, but slowly, we heal.
It is clear that issues of mental health are not just a police concern, but a deep and complex community-wide problem. What is being done to remedy the problem? The Bainbridge Island Police Department has been sending its officers to critical incident training. The Ostling family has been working to promote legislation on a statewide level mandating increased training for law enforcement professionals. Community groups such as Islanders for Collaborative Policing have been instrumental in working to forge a collaborative mental health strategy with police, schools, and mental health professionals on the Island.
One positive step in the direction of addressing mental health as a community-wide issue is the recent partnership of Bainbridge Island Police Department and Kitsap Mental Health Services to make the agency’s mental health first aid class available to citizens here to the Island.
This nationally recognized program is designed to teach the average person how to assess a situation and respond to signs of mental health concerns, such as helping a person through a panic attack, or talking with someone who is anxious or depressed.
The two-day course is useful for everyday incidents, and especially helpful to people working with the public. Sessions will be taught by nationally certified trainers. The training will be held at the Bainbridge Fire Station 23, on Phelps Road. Cost for the training is $30; with registration required no later than March 15.
For more information, or to register for Mental Health First Aid, contact KMHS at 360-415-5801 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Slowly, we heal.