Amy Watson

Amy Watson


Expert in crisis services, and the intersection of the criminal legal system and those with serious mental illnesses

Amy Watson


Trained as a mental health services researcher, Amy Watson, PhD has focused on people with serious mental illnesses that come in contact with the criminal legal system and interventions to prevent and reduce criminal legal involvement. She has conducted extensive research on police encounters with persons with mental illnesses and the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model. She has also examined mental health courts and prison reentry programs. Her current work is looking at models to reduce or eliminate the role of law enforcement in mental health crisis response. Earlier in her research career, she was the project director of a NIMH Center focused on mental illness stigma, and stigma reduction remains an important theme in her work. Other professional activities include serving on the CIT International Board of Directors from 2016-2021, (as President of the Board 2020-2021) and on the compliance team for the Department of Justice Settlement Agreement with the City of Portland, Oregon. Her direct practice experience includes working as a probation officer on a team serving clients with serious mental illnesses and as a Forensic Social Worker/Mitigation Specialist working on death penalty cases. She has a BA in Criminal Justice from Aurora University and an AM and PhD from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.

Curriculum Vitae

Degrees and Certifications

  • B.A. - Aurora University, Criminal Justice
  • A.M. - University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration
  • Ph.D. - University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration

Teaching Interests

  • Research Methods
  • Program Evaluation
  • Behavioral Health Policy
  • Social Policy
  • Crisis Services

Areas of Expertise

  • Crisis Services
  • Criminal legal system involvement of people with serious mental illnesses
  • Mental illness stigma and discrimination

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