BASICS of Mental Illness

Understand the Basics of Mental Illness and its Intersection with the Criminal Justice System.


Build Your Active Listening and Communication Skills.


Learn to Identify and Respond to Crises More Effectively.

An Introduction and Refresher

Professionals in the Criminal Justice System have a front row seat to the challenges and issues facing our society. This is acutely and painfully true in the case of mental illness.

As a criminal justice professional or first responder, you are regularly called to aid people who are experiencing the effects of mental illness. These calls can be challenging, disturbing, painful, and yet, incredibly rewarding when you are able to get the ill person the help they so desperately need.

While this course is not intended to make you a counselor or to diagnose people, there are key hallmarks and characteristics that, once you understand and can identify them, will help you to recognize those experiencing a mental health crisis and – perhaps more importantly – how to get them the help they need so they and those around them can be safe.

Building on many of your previous courses and training, this intensive course will provide ways that you can improve your communications skills – especially in the context of mental illness. The course will also help to expand your understanding about mental illnesses, drug use, as well as the intersection of drugs and mental illness.

Whether you are a law enforcement officer or first responder with thousands of calls under your belt, an animal control officer responding on scene, a victim advocate assisting a traumatized client, or even a probation officer with a probationer you are concerned about, this course is designed to empower you take the next steps in your understanding of how to help the people in your community stay just a little safer.


Designed for the Busy Working Professional

Whether you are new in the field or you’re ready to take the next step in your career, consider investing in your future through this course which is filled with more than 6.5 hours of instruction, activities and exercises designed to help you grow and succeed in your role.


Convenient and Affordable Training on your own schedule and without the need to travel.


Taught by Joe Smarro and Jesse Trevino, seasoned Crisis Officers with more than 10 years of saving thousands of individuals experiencing Mental Health Crisis situations.


Courses consist of real-world information important for any justice professional.

grow in your career

Your online course is filled with more than 6.5 hours of instruction, activities and exercises designed to help you grow and succeed in your role.







Meet Your Instructors

Jesse Trevino

Jesse Trevino is a former police detective, current social science academic, and master trainer who is an expert in policy evaluation and mental health jail diversion processes. Jesse served with the San Antonio Police Department for over 10 years. He worked on the Mental Health Unit and implemented nationally recognized programs addressing mental illness, homelessness, and chemical dependency. He went on to serve as an instructor and training coordinator at the San Antonio Police Training Academy, one of the top police academies in the nation. After promoting to detective, Jesse became the threat assessment program coordinator for the Southwest Texas Fusion Center, establishing the current national model for behavioral threat assessments in law enforcement. He frequently peer-reviews grant submissions for the Department of Justice. Jesse has an AA, BA, MS, and is in the dissertation phase of his PhD program.

Joe Smarro

Joe Smarro is a decorated combat veteran from the United States Marine Corps. He honorably served two tours to Afghanistan and Iraq with the 1st Battalion 4th Marines. In 2005 he joined the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD), where he became one of the original members of SAPD's Mental Health Unit, which Smarro helped to grow into a nationally recognized best practices policing unit. In addition to being one of the main subjects in the HBO documentary, ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS, Smarro has been featured in multiple media outlets including the TEDx talk "I See You." He is the founder and CEO of SolutionPoint+, a national training and consulting firm that focuses on cultivating mental wellness to maximize human capital and promote safety within organizations.

What People Are Saying about This?

It is very clear Joe is incredibly passionate, I could feel it through my screen

- B

This was wonderful! My favorite so far. Thank you for sharing your personal story.

- Margaret

This should be mandatory for all police departments all over the United States to watch.

- Migdalia

His passion is contagious. Can we clone them about 800 times and sprinkle them across America?

- Michael

One of the best trainings I have attended. So much truth of our failures as law enforcement and society to deal with mental health issues. Should be mandatory in all public safety service agencies.

- Dan

Joe’s approach to policing and response to individuals with special needs is on point. All police chiefs in the USA should be required to hear this presentation.

- Anna

It’s very obvious how much this is needed in all forms but especially for first responders.

- Brittany

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much is the Course?

The price is $156 for each student. We do have discounts available for JCH Members and group purchases involving three or more personnel (automatically applied at checkout). Please contact for details

But I Already Work Full-time… Would I Have Time?

We hear you. Only you know about the demands of your job or if you can “juggle” the demands of work, family, and school. That said, online courses are a great way to get the knowledge you need for career growth, without being tied down to a specific schedule, being out of the office for days at a time, or burdened by the expense of high priced tuition or travel costs. Split up into bite sized components, each course section can be completed over a lunch break in a week’s time – sometimes less. And don’t worry: if life gets in the way, you’ll have a whole year to complete the lessons on your own schedule.

What Internet Browsers Can I Use

We have tested the course using Chrome and Microsoft Edge. The Learning Management System does not work well with Firefox or Safari.

How Do I Log In?

Once we receive payment (online or check), we will contact you with instructions on how to log in. If you paid online, you should receive an email within five minutes.

How Do I Pay?

You can pay by credit card or debit card through our online shop. For agencies paying by Purchase Order, please contact us at

Is there a brochure for this course?

Yes! You can download a course brochure here

Click to Enroll Today!