Fighting crisis with intervention education

The National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC) held a crisis awareness, intervention and de-escalation training at the Southern Ute Museum, Monday, Jan. 13 — Wednesday, Jan. 15. The training was hosted by the Southern Ute Probation Department to bring awareness to a growing mental health epidemic in Indian Country.

Established more than 25 years ago, NCJTC is a leading national training organization in the field of Criminal Justice, they provide high quality training and technical assistance to enhance public safety and improve the quality of life in our communities.

The training focused on issues that need to be addressed by probation officers, judges, law enforcement and service providers who may face or encounter an individual(s) in crisis situations, many of which are already going through the judicial system.

“We seem to be seeing a revolving door of individuals coming through the court system that have some of those mental health issues and we need a better way to address them,” said Stefanie Wyatt, Chief Probation Officer for the Southern Ute Probation Department. “I brought this [training] in the hopes that maybe if our law enforcement officers, counselors and probation officers were on the same thought process of addressing mental illness in our community, we would be stronger with the same ideation from approaching it.”

Understanding what mental illness is, being able to define and develop a basic intervention and diversion strategy were crucial parts to this training.

According to Mental Health America 1.2 percent of the U.S. population identify as Native American/Alaskan Native, of those, 21 percent had a diagnosable mental illness in the past year, that is 830,000 people.

In the 2014 White House Report on Native Youth lists major disparities in health, education, as well as a state of emergency regarding Native youth suicide and PTSD rates three times higher than the general public, the same rate as Iraqi War Veterans.

It is no surprise that today’s generation of Native Americans face many disparities including, but not limited to: health, violence, poverty, suicide and addiction. Though full of resilience, strength and courage — Native Americans are ravaged by the legacy of historical trauma, which leads to higher rates of physiological, substance and mood disorders.

Dr. Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart describes historical trauma as “…the cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over one’s lifetime and from generation to generation following loss of lives, land and vital aspects of culture.”

The prevalence of trauma in native communities is high, but understanding where it comes from is all part of the healing.

“Native Americans and white males have the highest rate of suicide in the country and this is preventable,” stated Precious Collins, The Southern Ute Tribes Native Connections Coordinator. “We as Native Americans pride ourselves in our culture and traditions, but we’ve somehow disconnected from the community, we’re forgetting our family, friends and neighbors. We have to remember it’s not one person that makes us Nuuchí, its all of us that makes us Nuuchí. Let’s come together and be one again.”

For more information on Crisis Awareness, Intervention and De-escalation trainings visit NCJTC at For more information about Trauma Informed Care trainings in Colorado visit If you or someone you know is suicidal and is in need of help call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text 741741 or chat with someone live at ‘I’m Alive Chat’





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