Basic Mental Health Trainings

In addition to the 40-Hour CIT Training Certification Academies, CIT-RI is pleased to offer basic mental health training to police officers and first responders across Rhode Island. In accordance with recently passed legislation, CIT-RI has developed an 8-Hour Mental Health Training suitable for departments and agencies seeking to satisfy the requirements of the law. It is up to each individual police department to determine if they are in compliance with the law; CIT-RI does not offer legal advice. This is an in-person training that will not be offered virtually. Certification from the training will last for two years, at which time certifications can be renewed by taking a 4-Hour Mental Health Training Refresher. Officers who have taken the 40-Hour CIT Academy and received CIT certification within 1 year of their renewal will be exempt from the 4-hour training renewal requirement.

People who have taken Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training and are looking to renew their certifications should seek a MHFA trainer. CIT-RI cannot renew MHFA certifications. This CIT-RI 8-Hour Mental Health Training Course is designed by specialists in CIT, with a focus on the core principles of a robust CIT program. While it covers much of the same material as MHFA, it is different in that it is first responder specific, and offers practical training and skills focused on de-escalation and diversion. It includes instruction from police clinicians, local CIT officers, people with lived experience from the National Alliance on Mental Illness of RI, and other subject matter experts.  Departments who wish to take this training must start with the CIT-RI 8-Hour Mental Health Training Course, regardless of their previous certification in MHFA training.

All of our training programs are offered at no charge, so long as the following requirements are met:

• Department must have existing CIT Team and CIT Program OR

• Department must have signed a Letter of Commitment (LOC) with CIT-RI with goals and objectives related to the development of a CIT program, AND be willing to train at least 5% of their sworn personnel annually (until 20% of sworn personnel are certified)

Departments with CIT trained officers but without a formal CIT Program or CIT Team will also be required to commit to working with CIT-RI to take the next steps to develop their CIT program, should they wish to utilize this training. Interested departments can work with their regional CIT-RI Coordinator to develop an LOC that meets their needs. More information about the difference between CIT training and CIT programming can be found at the bottom of our “Upcoming Trainings” page.

All CIT-RI trainings are developed with subject matter experts both locally and nationally recognized. This 8-Hour Training Module was designed both to satisfy the requirements of the recently revised legislation that mandates mental health training for police officers, as well as to offer departments a path for developing their own CIT programs. At the center of every CIT program is the promotion of dignity and respect for people experiencing a mental health crisis, and a commitment to maintaining the safety and well-being of everyone who responds to a call for help. Please reach out to your local regional coordinator should you have any questions.

Sample Curriculum for the Basic 8-Hour Mental Health Training*


• Understanding law enforcement’s role in assisting individuals experiencing a mental health crisis

• Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of a mental health or substance use related crisis

• Learn to recognize signs of developmental and neuro-cognitive disorders, and how to safely engage and de-escalate people with these disorders

• Learn skills to increase success when assisting individuals experiencing a mental health or substance use related crisis

• Deepen understanding of the experience of families and loved ones of people with mental illness, and learn how to engage them in crisis situations

• Understand how to divert people in crisis to a CIT team, CIT officer, or other appropriate response team


Caitlin Gomes, QMHP: Caitlin has been an embedded clinician within the Warwick Police Department as a co-response crisis clinician and has previous experience working as a clinician at the RI Department of Corrections.

Jan Jackson, LMHC QMHP: Jan has worked as a co-response clinician for several police departments in the state as well as the clinical supervisor of RI’s only diversion center which also houses the 988 call center.

NAMI-RI: Advocates and staff from NAMI-RI will assist in executing the “Hearing Voices” portion of the training. These folks share their lived experience as individuals living with mental illness, and help deliver the portion of curriculum designed to simulate the experiences of people who hear voices.

CIT Patrol Officers: Rhode Island officers with experience in CIT will assist the instructors in describing what types of mental illness are commonly found in the field and how their CIT training has helped in assisting these individuals.

CIT-RI: Members of the CIT-RI team will be present to assist in delivering portions of the curriculum throughout the day.

Tentative Schedule:

8:00am- “Why Police?”

This portion of the training will explain the vital role police have in dealing with the public’s mental health issues. The presentation will also describe the many reasons why police are called for mental health crisis calls, the volume of MH related calls to expect, and the expectations the public may have for officers responding. Body-cam footage from calls will be utilized to demonstrate officers’ experiences in the field. Why CIT is important and how it better equips officers on how to deal with MH/SUD issues will also be covered.

Commonly Encountered Disorders and Diagnoses

This portion of the training will describe mood disorders (depression, bipolar), anxiety disorders (generalized, social, panic, OCD, PTSD, and trauma), and psychotic disorders (psychosis, schizophrenia, delusional, substance-induced psychosis). These will be presented through the lens of “Calls for Service”. For example, if a call for service comes in for a suicidal or homicidal person, what behavior might you observe on scene? What behavior should you be looking for? Less emphasis will be placed on what diagnosis to look for and more will be applied to utilizing tactical skills to observe behavior.

Activity related to concentrating in stressful situations.

9:00am-915am: Break

9:15am-10:00am: Specialty Populations

This portion of the training will cover special populations, including elderly/older adults (dementia), Veterans (PTSD), children and adolescents (developmental), neurocognitive disorders (TBI, CTE), autism, and trauma.

10:00am-10:15am- break

10:15am-11:00am: Active Listening and Tactical Skills, and Suicide Interventions

This portion of the training will focus on tactical skills that can be deployed in the field to safely engage and de-escalate people experiencing a mental health or SUD related crisis. Will review standard protocols, techniques to create a less stressful environment, practical skills related to physical body movements, how to use tone of voice to engage meaningfully, active listening skills that will help to build trust while still gathering essential information about the incident, and what to do when the situations continue to escalate despite best practices being deployed. These skills will dovetail into discussion about how to intervene with people who are expressing suicidal intent.

Activity related to active listening skills

11:00am-12:00pm: NAMI-RI

This portion of the training utilizes staff and volunteers from NAMI-RI. Walter and Jeremiah are both individuals who have experience presenting at CIT-RI academies. They share their life experiences as people living with mental illness, and describe encounters they have had with law enforcement. They describe what is helpful to them during a crisis, and explain how their mental illness has affected their ability to complete everyday tasks. These stories of lived experience as essential in developing tactical empathy and understanding the experiences of people that police often engage in the field.

12:00pm-12:30: Break for lunch (NAMI folks stay for lunch, engage with officers)

12:30-1:30pm: Hearing Voices and Visual Hallucinations

This portion of the training will focus on encounters with people who may be experiencing visual and/or audio hallucinations.  Common signs and symptoms will be described, and skills for engaging and de-escalating this special population will be reviewed.

1:00pm-2:00pm: Review of Calls for Service

During this time, officers will apply the skills learned during the morning session. Calls for service from local police departments will be used to review encounters with people experiencing a mental health crisis, and discussion about appropriate response techniques will be encouraged.

2:00pm-215pm: Break

2:15pm-3:00pm: Wellness for First Responders

This training segment will focus on how to recognize signs of stress and trauma within the ranks of a police department or emergency agency. Resources will be offered from Rhode Island Critical Incident Stress Team (CISM).

3:00pm-3:10pm: Break

3:10-4:00pm: Policies and Procedures

The training will end with a review of best practices for mental health response teams across the state. Best practices will include examples of official MH response policies, workflows for dispatching crisis calls, requirements for maintaining certifications and training skills, and more. Participants will be provided clear instructions for next steps in developing CIT teams within their own institutions.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2022). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP22-07-01-005, NSDUH Series H-57). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from

National Institute of Mental Health. (2023). Understanding psychosis. (NIH Publication No.23-MH-8110). Retrieved from Understanding Psychosis (

Abramson, A. (2021, July 1) American Psychological Association. Building mental health into emergency responses. Vol. 52 (5) Retrieved from Building mental health into emergency responses (

National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2020, July). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The science of Addiction. Retrieve from Treatment and Recovery | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (

*Schedule, instructors, and topics are subject to change

We use cookies to improve your experience and to help us understand how you use our site. Please refer to our cookie notice and privacy statement for more information regarding cookies and other third-party tracking that may be enabled.

Intuit Mailchimp logo
Facebook icon
Email icon

© 2023 CIT-RI