Officer Mental Wellness & , Conflict Management, Mediation and Crisis Intervention
Marie Ridgeway - Trauma Therapist

Marie Ridgeway currently leads MCPA's new series Conflict Management, Mediation and Crisis Intervention. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and is currently an independently licensed Clinical Social Worker and psychotherapist in private practice. Ridgeway is also a Health Officer for Hennepin County where she responds to mental health crisis calls and provides mobile mental health crisis assessments. 


Course Overall Learning Goal: the purpose of this course is to…
Officers will learn mental health basics, commonly encountered mental health diagnoses including the impact of trauma and substance abuse, and the crossover of mental health and criminal behavior. Officers will learn ways to effectively respond to persons with mental illness and strategies for managing mental health crises, along with knowledge and information about officer mental health and wellness.

Performance Objectives: upon completion of this course, officer will be able to….

1. Demonstrate understanding of the challenges of mental illness:
  • Describe the major and serious forms of mental illnesses
  • Explain how mental illnesses may overlap with criminal behavior
2. Demonstrate understanding of mental illness concerns specific to special populations:
  • People who have experienced trauma – recognizing signs and symptoms of trauma, explain approaches for interacting with these people
  • Discuss special considerations officers should be aware of and strategies that can be appropriate in mental health crisis situations involving veterans.
  • Discuss special considerations for recognizing and managing people experiencing a mental health crisis with co-occurring substance use or abuse.
  • Discuss how culture affects views and reactions to signs/behaviors associated with mental illnesses. Identify the benefits of culturally knowledgeable/sensitive responses including strategies for culturally responsive mental health crisis intervention.
3. Discuss bias, fear, and misinformation that come from the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, and the importance of informed, fair, and impartial responses

4. Demonstrate understanding of mental health concerns of peace officers to include:
  • Discuss how trauma exposure and stress may influence officer mental/physical health, decisions and behavior
  • Discuss or model strategies that support good mental health
  • Discuss how to recognize when help is needed, barriers to seeking help, and how to access help
5. Discuss practical strategies for managing situations involving a mental health crisis to include:
  • Discuss and/or model verbal and non-verbal intervention techniques that officers can use to diffuse tension and reduce emotional intensity in situations involving someone experiencing a mental health crisis.
6. Explain how and when to take someone into custody including:
  • How to assess for safety and what questions to ask, the risk factors to look for
  • The statutory elements for taking someone into custody for reasons of mental illness
7. Discuss peace officer duties to protect individuals in custody, warning signs of suicidality in custody, and practices for preventing suicide of individuals in custody.

8. Identify local resources officers can use during or after a mental health crisis

Course timeline/body of each major unit

  • Mental Health Basics

  1. What does a healthy mental state look like
  2. Origins of mental health from conception to death
  3. Adverse Childhood Experiences – leading factor in mental illness and substance abuse
  4. The effects of neglect/abuse on the brain vs healthy brain development
  • Commonly Encountered Diagnoses

  1. Stigma and Mental Health
  2. Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders
    1. Mental Health Concerns for Officers
  3. Mood Disorders: Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder
  4. Personality Disorders – Histrionic, Borderline and Antisocial
  5. Substance Abuse and Dependence Disorders
    1. Commonly Abused Substances and Their Effects
    2. Substance Abuse Activity
  6. Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorde
  7. Neurodevelopmental Disorders - Autism and ADHD
  8. Anxiety Disorders – GAD, Panic Disorder
  9. Psychosis
  10. Neurocognitive Disorders – Alzheimer’s, Dementia, TBI
  11. Cultural Sensitivity and Mental Health
  12. Special Considerations for Veterans
  • Managing a Mental Health Crisis

  1. Assessing Risk of Violence
  2. Suicide Risk Factors
  3. Approaching the Call
  4. Use of questions
  5. Listening
  6. Helpful Phrases
  7. Risk of suicide while in custody
  8. Civil Commitment Statute
  9. Scenarios
  • Psychotropic Medications

  • Reporting Abuse/Neglect of a Child or Vulnerable Adult

  • Resources Before and After the Crisis


  1. Powerpoint print-out
  2. Instructor evaluation form