ProTraining.De-escalation and Mental Health Training for Police & Security.

Services integrated


Law enforcement, security


2015 to present

Project overview

Police and protective service officers often find themselves in situations where they are responding to an individual who is, or appears to be, mentally ill. These interactions often lack understanding between both parties, resulting in escalating conflict, and require training to enhance positive outcomes.

ProTraining was originally developed by researchers at the University of Alberta Department of Psychiatry as an in-person training to advance the mental health awareness and empathy skills of police officers.

ProTraining was interested in bringing some of their training online, in order to expand the reach of their course, and provide officers taking their in-person offering an introduction to the key skills they need when interacting with individuals. In order to


What we did

Yardstick instructional designers, authors and visual designers adapted ProTraining‘s Unit 1 course content to build an interactive online eLearning course. ProTraining prioritized building empathy and skills such as verbal and non-verbal communication to de-escalate potentially negative interactions. Yardstick worked with ProTraining to integrate interactive elements throughout the Unit to provide a learning environment that highlighted and reinforced these key skills. Embedded first person videos demonstrate skills such as body language and tone of voice, while audio recordings of individuals with lived experience of mental illness help officers understand the perspectives of and build empathy with individuals who would otherwise be seen as hostile.

Informal course assessments called “try-it-outs” encourage active recall of course content, which is further reinforced through an immersive and interactive scenario built into each module. Learners watch a negative interaction unfold from different perspectives, then choose how to respond at key points in the interaction. Based on their choices, the individual they are interacting with will either calm down or become more agitated, escalating the conflict. At the end of the interaction, learners are provided feedback and given an opportunity to re-try the interaction, or watch an example of a successful interaction.

Service summaries

  • Instructional design
  • Interactive simulations
  • Scenario-based learning
  • Gamification
  • Blended learning