Melissa Owens wins 2023 award from CIT International for work with the Patient Not Prisoner program.
What is the
Fred Frese Award?
The Fred Frese CIT People with Lived Experience of the Year Award recognizes a person who lives with mental illness who is actively involved with CIT, including promoting, planning, participating in the training, and assisting with the implementation or with ongoing sustainability efforts.
It recognizes a person who incorporates their knowledge and familiarity with systems and care issues; engages opportunities to assist others, and always introduces CIT in conversations with others as a theme or calling of hope.
"Melissa, a schoolteacher with a bipolar diagnosis has been presenting at Anne Arundel County’s CIT training since 2019. She shares her story, including videos of her manic state with psychotic episodes, to humanize mental health. Officers learn how properly trained officers assisted her family in getting her appropriate community mental health treatment.
Melissa shares her story not only of her crisis, but of her resiliency and recovery to end the stigma of mental health. Melissa is ending the stigma by normalizing lived experience with mental illness and how police officers were helpful in her recovery. She shares that through no fault of her own, due to everyday stressors, she had a mental health crisis, even while taking her medications as prescribed. She is letting others with a mental health diagnosis know they are not alone, and they too can prosper.
Through her life and story, she demonstrates that mental health episodes happen, police can be part of the solution, recovery is possible and anyone with a diagnosis can live a “normal” productive life."
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