Last month, Perry Wellness Center received the latest in its series of recognitions for its work in the community. On March 22, the center was honored at the 2016
Georgia Crisis Intervention Convention for its work with the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program. This national program trains law enforcement officers to provide humane interventions with individuals who may be having a mental health crisis.
The theme for this year’s Georgia recognition event was: “Georgia Walking with Mental Health Heroes.” Out of nine categories for statewide recognition, Perry Wellness Center was recognized with the “Choice Site Visit Location Award.” Several times each year, law enforcement officials from local and neighboring counties visit the campus for a day of learning about the critical needs of those with mental illness and guidance on responding to a law enforcement summons during a crisis. Officials listen to peers’ own stories and share experiences from the field.
“It is wonderful to have these law enforcement officials visit our campus,” CEO and PWC founder Stuart Perry says. “We learn and they learn how to lower arrests and possible litigation. They hear from our peers that they need to be more observant and have a greater awareness of mental health issues.”
The center’s awareness of the importance of the CIT program began about six years ago when Amanda Perry, daughter of Stuart and Pam Perry, attended CIT training hosted by Sue Marlow, a longtime friend of the Perrys and strong mental health advocate.
Amanda Perry explains, “The program is a 40-hour course with a tough exam. I made the grade and am now CIT-trained.”
Since Amanda’s experience, numerous groups of law enforcement officials have come with Sue Marlow to learn at the center about mental health needs. After a listening and sharing session between the CIT visitors and peers, the groups team up to play volleyball and basketball and enjoy lunch prepared by the culinary staff.
Trained law enforcement officers become part of teams in their home communities, with special expertise in responding to mental health crises. A well-informed officer can reduce the likelihood that a law enforcement encounter will lead to the escalation of the crisis or an incarceration. Treatment options can usually be considered instead of arrest or incarceration. Perry Wellness Center is grateful to be part of such a valuable community effort.
This state recognition of Perry Wellness Center is the latest in a month-long
series of awards and accomplishments. During its most recent audit by State officials, the center received an exemplary score of 97. Staff and peers attended a ceremony at the State capital to see Stuart Perry honored in the chamber of the Georgia House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Cheokas for his community service. And Perry Wellness Center received a very positive re-accreditation from the national Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL).
“It has been a great month for Perry Wellness Center,” Stuart Perry notes. “More and more people are becoming aware of our ever-changing program to meet a changing population who suffers from mental health issues and substance abuse.” Stuart thinks a recent visit by Mr. Frank Berry, Georgia’s Mental Health Commissioner, has helped increase statewide awareness.
“Mr. Berry was impressed with our programs, made a personal donation, and has shared his findings throughout Georgia,” Stuart explains. “He plans another visit in the coming weeks. We will be ready!”
In the photo above, state winners are pictured at the recent CIT awards ceremony. Stuart Perry is at the far left with his award plaque.