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Simulator trains Md. police for scenarios with mentally ill

Mindstorm is a virtual simulation that allows people to experience the hallucinations some schizophrenics face

By Tricia Bishop
The Baltimore Sun

TOWNSON, Md. — The voices are constant. They fight each other for space in your brain, and while you try to process what they're saying — "You're worthless, we hate you" — you can't believe what you're seeing: the TV weatherman talking directly to you.

The experience, which mimics a schizophrenic psychotic episode through video and voices, was part of a daylong training session held at Towson University on Monday for campus police and security personnel from nine Maryland schools. It was led by the Maryland chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness to help college law enforcement recognize — and appropriately respond to — mental illness in the aftermath of several high-profile incidents.

Mental illnesses typically manifest in young people, ages 16 to 24, with some college students experiencing their first episodes while away from home, mental health professionals said. They're often scared, confused and don't know where to turn for help. And sometimes, they attract the attention of police, who may not know how to react to erratic, irrational behavior.

Full Story: Campus police get mental illness training

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