Mental illness training for cops effective: Study

Includes role-playing, feedback from actors
By Amanda Silliker
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/17/2013

In 2011, police officers at the Edmonton Police Service participated in a one-day training program on how to deal with individuals with a mental illness. Officers participated in role-playing exercises involving actors who represented various mental illnesses.

The goal of the training was to improve officers’ empathy, communication skills and ability to de-escalate potentially difficult situations.

“Police deal with mental illness on a daily basis — it is one of the highest number of calls,” said Peter Silverstone, a professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Alberta in Calgary. “Training police as to the best way to interact with the people they see frequently is a good thing, in and of itself, and there is also a great deal of misunderstanding about mental illness.”