ELSBERRY -Crisis-mode is something Jessica Landfair has had to become an expert on. Two of her six children have been impacted by mental illness. It has become a personal must and a professional passion of hers to help educate others on mental health issues.
The diagnoses of her two children include ADHD, bipolar mood disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic disorder, reactive attachment disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and depression.
Recently, the Elsberry resident had to contact local police to intercede in relation to an incident with one of her children. It was that interaction that prompted her to then attend an Elsberry Board of Alderman meeting an extend an olive branch out of necessity as much as anything.
“It is truly unfortunate that I have to make a call to law enforcement on (behalf) of my children’s behaviors, but in certain situations I need to,” Landfair said. “I will do anything to keep my children safe.
The one situation that prompted me, was the conduct of an officer. I believe if they were CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) trained it would have been handled more effectively. Instead the situation escalated very quickly.”
Further, Landfair explains that she understands the pressure and stress that law enforcement endures and believes CIT could be beneficial.
“Their mental health is just as important especially when dealing with someone in crisis. As well as their mental health may be jeopardized and they may not realize it,” Landfair said.
“My goal when attending the board of Elsberry (meeting) was to bring awareness to mental health and implement a crisis intervention team with law enforcement.” Landfair said.
Further, she believes that CIT trained officers are more prepared when crisis occurs. “They were able to de-escalate a situation or prevent and/or cause further harm.”
Landfair says she has not heard if the board plans to implement the training or not. Further, Landfair said the inspiration to address the board came from her personal experiences with her children who have experienced aggressive and suicidal behaviors.
That desire to help others have led her to pursue an undergraduate in Legal Studies at Webster University. Throughout her studies, which will be completed in May, she has expanded an interest in the mental health of incarcerated individuals, particularly women.
“My question is how certain traumas go unnoticed and how the community or criminal justice system can make reforms or assist these individuals,” she said.
Spreading awareness, she believes can help to possibly reduce further self-destruction. She says mental health has a stigma and because that exists, people may not always seek help.
“I think overall knowledge can possibly de-escalate situations especially when law enforcement is involved. Education in the community may possibly prevent unfortunate events from happening such as suicide, drug abuse, or self-harming,” she said.
Since Landfair knows first-hand the perils of being a parent of children who suffer from mental illness and in dealing with the police, she believes that CIT is a win-win - a problem-solver for both law enforcement and those who have mental health issues.
“As far as neighboring law enforcement and smaller jurisdictions being trained, I think it is extremely important. Rural areas don’t necessarily have or know of the multitudes of resources that larger communities have. So (if) law enforcement had knowledge of these resources it could potentially better the community,” she said.
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