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Introduction to Serious Mental Illness


Serious mental illness affects just over 5% of adults in the United States (NSDUH, 2019), and includes diagnoses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe major depressive disorder.  This 12-week virtual learning collaborative is designed for clinicians of any discipline who are new to working with individuals with SMI or experienced clinicians who are looking for update of evidence-based approaches.  Topics include the recovery model, an overview of the public sector health care system, engagement strategies, motivational interviewing, evidence-based psychosocial and psychopharmacological interventions for SMI, crisis intervention, applications of technology, and clinician self-care. 

Program Schedule  

The facilitated 12-week syllabus will be held from March 11 to June 9, 2024. No content will be released during the week of May 6, 2024. 

Please note you must complete all 12 modules during weeks 1-12 in order to claim credit for this course. 

Module Opens 


Module Title 

Office Hours on Zoom 

Mar 4 


Welcome and Introduction  


Mar 11 


What is Mental Illness? 

Wednesday, March 13 @ 3-4 pm ET  

Mar 18 


Recovery Model and Recovery-Based Approaches 

Thursday, March 21 @ 1-2 pm ET 

Mar 25 


The Big Picture 

Wednesday, March 27 @ 3-4pm 

Apr 1 


Engagement and the Therapeutic Alliance 

Thursday, April 4 @ 1-2 pm ET  

Apr 8 


Technology and Mental Health 

Wednesday, April 10 @ 3-4 pm ET 

Apr 15 


Approaches to Treatment: Motivational Interviewing and Stage-Based Interventions 

Thursday, April 18 @ 1-2 pm ET 

Apr 22 


Medication Treatments for SMI, Part I: General Principles and Antipsychotic Medications 

Wednesday, April 24 @ 4-5 pm ET 

Apt 29 


Medication Treatments for SMI, Part II: Antidepressants and Mood Stabilizers 

Tuesday, April 30 @ 12-1 pm ET 

May 13 


Evidence-Based Therapy Practices for Schizophrenia 

Thursday, May 16 @ 1-2 pm ET 

May 20 


Suicide Risk Assessment 

Thursday, May 23, @ 1-2 pm ET 

May 27 


Crisis De-escalation  

Thursday, May 30 @ 1-2 pm ET 

Jun 3 


Clinician Self Care  

Thursday, June 6 @ 1-2 pm ET (Sherin) 

Jun 9 


Program Schedule/Syllabus Ends 



FREE - $0 

Learning Objectives  

  • Define recovery and identify the key factors that support recovery for mental health conditions. 
  • Incorporate strategies to improve engagement, motivational interviewing, fundamentals of cognitive behavioral therapy, and crisis de-escalation skills (if needed) into routine clinical interactions. 
  • Describe the current evidence-based psychosocial and psychopharmacologic treatments for depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. 
  • Think broadly about an individual’s full treatment plan and identify if any gaps could be addressed by attempting any new techniques or adding additional services discussed in this virtual learning collaborative. 

Target Audience  

Counselor, Nurse/Nurse Practitioner, Peer Specialist/Peer Support, Pharmacist, Physician (Non-psychiatrist), Physician Assistant, Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Social Worker 

Instructional Level  


Estimated Time to Complete 

Estimated Duration: 24.0 hours  

Program Begin Date: March 11, 2024 

Program End Date: June 9, 2024 

Credit Claim End Date: August 8, 2024 

Note: This course has a 12-week syllabus. Credit must be claimed within 60 days of the end of the last session.  

How to Earn Credit 

Participants who wish to earn AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™, CE credit for social workers, or a certificate of participation may do so by completing the course modules, participating in live group meetings, and completing the evaluation. Participants claiming CE credit for social workers must have full attendance at each live meeting to claim credit for that meeting. After evaluating the program, course participants will be provided with an opportunity to claim hours of participation and print an official CME certificate (physicians), CE certificate (social workers) or certificate of participation (other disciplines) showing the event dates and hours earned. 

Continuing Education Credit 

In support of improving patient care, the American Psychiatric Association is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.  


APA designates this enduring activity for a maximum of 24.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit ™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. 

Social Workers 

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) designates this activity for 24.0 continuing education credits. Social workers should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.  

Continuing education requirements vary from state to state. Many state boards grant reciprocity with national accrediting organizations and other state boards. It is the responsibility of each professional to understand the requirements for license renewal or check with the state or national licensing board and/or professional organization to become more familiar with their policies for acceptable continuing education credit. Social workers and Psychologists should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval. 

Faculty and Planner Disclosures 

The American Psychiatric Association adheres to the ACCME’s Standards for Integrity and Independence in Accredited Continuing Medical Education. Any individuals in a position to control the content of a CME activity — including faculty, planners, reviewers or others — are required to disclose all relevant financial relationships with ineligible entities (commercial interests). All relevant conflicts of interest have been mitigated prior to the commencement of the activity.  


  • Robert O. Cotes, MD. Emory University School of Medicine. Disclosures – Consultant: Saladax Biomedical, HLS Therapeutics (unpaid); Research funding (to institution): Otsuka, Roche, Karuna, Alkermes.  
  • Sherin Khan, LCSW, Thresholds. Ms. Khan has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.  
  • John Torous, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Torous has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.  
  • José M. Viruet, LCPC, Erie Family Health Centers. Mr. Viruet has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.  
  • Benjamin Druss MD, MPH, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. Dr. Druss has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.  


  • John Torous, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Torous has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.    
  • Teri Brister, PHD, LPC, National Alliance for Mental Illness. Dr. Brister has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.    
  • Sherin Khan, LCSW, Thresholds. Ms. Khan has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.    

Accessibility for Participants with Disabilities 

The American Psychiatric Association is committed to ensuring accessibility of its website to people with disabilities. If you have trouble accessing any of APA’s online resources, please contact us at 202-559-3900 for assistance.  

Availability: On-Demand
Access expires on 08/08/2024
Credit Offered:
24 CME Credits
24 SW CE Credits
24 COP Credits
Contains: 25 Courses
Funding for SMI Adviser was made possible by Grant No. SM080818 from SAMHSA of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, SAMHSA/HHS or the U.S. Government.
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