Public Affairs, The California State University

CSU to Lead Mental Health Training for Law Enforcement Officers

by Elizabeth Chapin

The rising number of college students with mental health issues underscores an increased need for mental illness awareness training among law enforcement officers.  In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that one in four young adults between the ages of 18-24 have a diagnosable mental illness and 40 percent of college students with a mental illness do not seek help.

In an effort to meet that need, the California State University Chancellor’s Office will initiate the first-ever mental health training for campus police officers and other law enforcement professionals.

Funded by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) Student Mental Health Initiative, the training aims to create a safe and supportive campus environment by increasing access to mental health services and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness.

Beginning in June, the CSU will host between 12 and 14 training sessions that make use of an innovative portable simulator, which enables officers to interact in real-time with life-size computer-generated people.  In addition to the interactive video simulation training, officers will be taught how to recognize the signs of mental illness, de-escalate conflict, and provide on-campus as well as off-campus referrals for mental health services.

“This state-of-the-art training will prepare law enforcement officers throughout the CSU and surrounding communities to understand the signs of mental illness,” said CSU Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ron Vogel. “Although campus police cannot take the place of mental health professionals, it is imperative that officers serving as first responders understand how to appropriately assess a situation and provide referrals.”

In addition to CSU campus officers, all training sessions will be open to CalMHSA partners including University of California and California Community College campuses and local police agencies. Training sessions will take place on the following dates:

  • June 3-4: CSU Monterey Bay
  • June 10: San Diego State
  • June 12-13: CSU Chancellor’s Office
  • July 9: Sacramento State
  • July 17: San José State

The CSU is committed to strengthening student success by providing a number of programs and services to support the psychological and emotional health of students through mental health services. The CSU’s current mental health policy requires that campuses offer counseling and emergency crisis services, as well as mental health outreach, consultation and referral resources.