Williams: CIT Training and Impact on Mental Illness and Substance use-related Stigma among Law Enforcement

October 21, 2022


Limited empirical data and research exists about stigmatizing attitudes and perceptions held by law enforcement officers towards persons with mental illness and substance use issues. Pre- and post-training survey data from 92 law enforcement personnel who attended a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training was used to investigate training-related changes in mental illness stigma and substance use stigma. Training participant’s mean age was 38.35 ± 9.50 years, majority white non-Hispanic race/ethnicity (84.2%), male gender (65.2%), and reported job category as road patrol (86.9%). Pre-training, 76.1% endorsed at least one stigmatizing attitude towards people with mental illness, and 83.7% held a stigmatizing attitude towards those with substance use problems. Poisson regression revealed that working road patrol (RR=0.49, p<0.05), awareness of community resources (RR=0.66, p<0.05), and higher levels of self-efficacy (RR=0.92, p<0.05) were associated with lower mental illness stigma pre-training. Knowledge of communication strategies (RR=0.65, p<0.05) was associated with lower pre-training substance use stigma. Post-training, improvement in knowledge of community resources and increases in self-efficacy were significantly associated with decreases in both mental illness and substance use stigma. These findings highlight the existence of stigma related to both mental illness and substance use pre-training suggesting the need for implicit and explicit bias training prior to the start of active law enforcement duty. These data are consistent with prior reports indicating CIT trainings as a path to address mental illness and substance use stigma. Further research on effects of stigmatizing attitudes and additional stigma-specific training content is warranted.

Gilbert A. Nick, Sharifa Williams, Helen-Maria Lekas, Kerstin Pahl, Chloe Blau, Don Kamin, Crystal Fuller-Lewis (2022) .Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training and impact on mental illness and substance use-related stigma among law enforcement, Drug and Alcohol Dependence Reports, Volume 5, 2022, 100099, ISSN 2772-7246, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dadr.2022.100099.

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