Division of Safety Services

Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM)

A workplace critical incident is an event associated with the workplace that causes emotional or psychological trauma in people who are directly or indirectly exposed to the consequence of the event. Critical incidences are commonly associated with extraordinary situations involving physical trauma that occur without warning, are overwhelming, and uncontrollable. Critical incidences will often affect a worker's ability to function in a normal manner by causing a strong emotional reaction.

We commonly rally to support those traumatized by critical incidences. In most cases our informal support networks are effective in helping us to manage the potentially overwhelming effects of a traumatic event. Atle Dyregrov, Jeffery Mitchell, and other pioneers in this area, recognized that among emergency service personnel (fire, police, ambulance) an all too common response to the trauma associated with their work environment was to avoid the powerful emotional and psychological consequences of exposure to trauma. The Critical Incident Stress Management process was developed to assist those professionals in the necessary process of dealing with a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. The system has come to be known as Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) a carefully structured psycho-educational process that guides individuals through the normalization process.

DMHAS recognizes the potential for the DMHAS worker to be exposed to work-related trauma. Facility-based teams of volunteers have been trained to provide CISM support to the DMHAS workforce.

The DMHAS CISM Network is peer supported.  Teams exist at six sites - CT Valley Hospital (CVH), Southeast Mental Health Authority (SMHA), Capitol Region Mental Health Center (CRMHC), Western CT Mental Health Network (WCMHN), Southwest CT Mental Health System (SWCMHS), and CT Mental Health Center (CMHC).  The teams are coordinated by a designated Team Leader.  To request CISM Services contact the Team Leader.  The Team Leader will assess the situation and respond as appropriate.

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