Online Certificate Training: Mental Illness in Dispute Resolution (MIDR)

The Mental Illness in Dispute Resolution (MIDR) training teaches vital skills, applicable to all cases, for becoming impartial and sensitive to mental health needs.

The training is offered in two 60-minute online trainings and one 30-minute online training, accessible on-demand.  Participants receive a certificate at the end of completing each of the components.


Learn more below:



When Dispute Resolvers Serve Parties with Mental Illness

Mediation and arbitration cases involving mental illness are more common than you might think. Here are five key scenarios when mental health issues can become part of the mediation.


  • The party is open with their mental illness
    Ex: a party mentions their diagnosis during intake or during the session


  • The mental illness is on record in the facts of the case
    Ex: an employment discrimination case based on one party’s psychiatric disability


  • One party accuses another of having a mental illness
    Ex: divorce mediation where a wife says the husband is unfit to have custody of the children due to untreated, undocumented mental illness


  • The dispute resolver suspects that a party has a mental illness
    Ex: the arbitrator and party are clashing, or the party frequently interrupts, and the arbitrator wonders if this challenging behavior is due to mental illness


  • A party would like to trigger some kind of disability accommodation
    Ex: a party needs a shorter session or more breaks because of the stress of the session


1 out of 5 US adults has a diagnosable mental health problem each year.  If this rate sounds surprising, it’s because many people keep their mental illnesses secret due to the stigma in our society.


Parties with mental illness are even afraid to tell their mediator or arbitrator because they are scared it will hurt them in the session. That means that they are disconnected from the mediator, experiencing a power imbalance due to their internalized illness stigma, and unable to get help they might need for their disabilities.


They may be right to be afraid, because mediators have shown biases related to mental illness. Did you know that upon hearing a party has mental illness, many dispute resolvers are worried that party will exhibit challenging behaviors during the session? Or that mediation centers have often cited the presence of a mental illness as a reason to declare a party lacks capacity to even participate in the session?


This is because, in the absence of proper training, dispute resolvers have been forced to rely on gut feelings. Gut feelings are often biased by stereotypes, including those for mental illness. You may even inadvertently disempower a party by trying to help them, if they perceive it as paternalistic.

[Back to top]




Online MIDR Training Overview




Be Sensitive and Impartial Toward Mental Health Issues (60min)

Lecture: The Voices and Choices in Mental Health
Exercise: The “Right” Choice for Treatment
Case Study: Is This A Problem? 
Takeaway Tool: Validating Mental Health Perspectives Checklist



 Become Accessible to Mental Health Needs (60 min)

Lecture: Principles for Accessible Mediation Practice
Exercise: Make The Session Work
Case Study:: Adjusting the Session to Meet Party Needs
Takeaway Tool: Accessible ADR Practices Worksheet


Put it in Practice: Impartiality and Accessibility (30min)

Lecture: Incorporating These Principles Into Intake and Sessions
Case Study: Applying These Principles to Your Practice
Takeaway Tool: Sample Session Guidelines and Opening Statement




  • Certificate – Receive a certificate for each of the three online training components
  • Check-Ins – There are one-month and three-month check-ins for feedback and support
  • Ask Dan – You’re always encouraged to ask Dan questions

[Back to top]



How MH Mediate Developed This MIDR Training

The MIDR training was designed by Dan Berstein, a mediator living with bipolar disorder and a national expert in mental illness in dispute resolution.  We have delivered workshops, intensive trainings, and webinars on these topics. The experience below has all supported the development of this training to empower mediators to serve clients with mental health issues:


  • Trained mediators in over a dozen states as well as through conference workshops for the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR), the Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM), and the Association for Conflict Resolution Greater New York chapter (ACR-GNY).  We have delivered online trainings for the National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM) and for state and federal government agencies focused on dispute and resolution. 


  • Conducted one of the largest surveys of private ADR professionals around the country to assess their needs for challenging behavior supports, as part of a several-survey Behaviors in ADR Project.  Received NY Unified Court System funding to train three county dispute resolution centers in addressing challenging behaviors.


  • Developed and tested proprietary tools to help be impartial with mental health issues, make practices accessible, and address challenging behaviors


  • Piloted mental health conflict resolution services and conflict resolution events for mental health communities, including New York City’s first National Dialogue on Mental Health event as part of the White House Initiative and a recently awarded project funded by the AAA-ICDR Foundation providing mediation training for peer specialists (people living with mental health conditions and working on mental health treatment settings).


  • Hosted skills sessions for mediators in collaboration with CUNY Dispute Resolution Center to focus on issues including accessibility, impartiality, and yelling

[Back to top]



Why Take This Training?


  • Feel Comfortable When Mental Health Issues Arise
    Know how to talk about mental health and when not to say anything. 


  • Receive Tools You Can Use Right Away
    Every component of this workshop is designed to leave you with frameworks and tools you can customize for your practice and use right away.



  • Access Follow-Up Support
    You will have the opportunity to ask Dan questions at any time and you will receive a post-training debrief message as well as check-ins one month and three months after the training to help you with challenges or questions.


  • Receive Training Certificates
    You will receive a certificate for each of the three modules being taught in these trainings



 [Back to top]



About the Trainer, Dan Berstein

IMG_6240 copy00Dan Berstein is a mediator and trainer living with bipolar disorder. Dan is known both for his work focused on mental health and dispute resolution and his work with mediation best practices. He has traveled the country training mediators in over a dozen states to become accessible to parties with mental health needs, prepared and impartial toward challenging behaviors, and sensitive to parties living with mental illness. Dan has delivered trainings and workshops for the National Association for Community Mediation, the Association for Conflict Resolution, the Academy for Family and Professional Mediators, state and federal government agencies, and more.


Dan founded MH Mediate to build bridges between the mental health and mediation communities. Through MH Mediate, Dan has piloted mental health mediation cases, convened the first NYC event as part of the White House National Dialogue on Mental Health, and hosted mental health conversation events with the CUNY Dispute Resolution Center. MH Mediate has also provided mental health conflict resolution skill training for mental health organizations, universities, workplaces, and mental health peers.  MH Mediate research projects have focused on understanding mental health conflicts, developing tools for mediators, and understanding mediator needs for addressing challenging behaviors.


Dan holds a master’s degree in Mental Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a certificate in Health Communication as well as a bachelor’s degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He sits on the Mediation and Diversity Committees of the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution, where he leads an initiative collecting best practice tools for mediatiors.  He formerly sat on the Mediator Advisory Board of the NY Peace Institute and the operations committee for the Mood Disorder Support Group of New York City. He has also served as a Mental Health First Aid trainer with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and an awareness speaker with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

 [Back to top]



Testimonials from Past MH Mediate Trainings and Events


“As one who lives with mental illness and is trained in mediation, Dan brings the subject matter alive
– Dr. Maria Volpe, Director of the Dispute Resolution Program at John Jay College


“You provided me with a perspective I had not heard before.  It has opened me up to deeper listening in the face of mental illness. 
– John E. O’Grady, Chair, Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco

TESTIMONIALS Web Button (satisfaction customer experience vote)

Dan’s delivery provided a model of what we say we do, but too often fail at. He was always respectful to those making comments or asking questions. He really listened and considered what was said before responding. I look forward to having access to another dose of Dan Berstein”

– Joan Webster, Community Mediation Services at the Center for Nonviolent Solutions


Many of our clients come to us with diagnosed or undiagnosed mental issues that can be accommodated whether we know of their health background or not.  At the very least we should realize that many times the issues we are mediating are stressful enough to trigger behaviors that are not typical for individuals in any case.  There is a great need for this sensitivity in our practice”
– Peg Connealy, The Mediation Center


The discussion of accessibility and accommodation regarding the mediation practice was eye-opening.  The assessment of session termination based on “pre-determined behaviors,” which compelled a hard look at what is truly a “safe environment” in mediation, raises the bar for attention to presumption, bias and discrimination”
– Pam Hebbert, Executive Director of Mediation West



Dan Berstein is a thoughtful contributor to the nuanced, evolving understanding of the appropriate use of mediation” 
– Justin R. Corbett, Former Executive Director of the National Association for Community Mediation

[Back to top]



Who is this training right for?


  • Practitioners interested in learning high-level frameworks they can apply to their practice right away


  • Practitioners who would like a better idea what to do if a party discloses a mental health need and asks for an accommodation in a session


  • Mediators and arbitrators who want to hone their skills in impartiality, self-determination, and quality of service using mental health issues as a context to refine their practices


  • Practitioners who want take-away tools they can use following the training


 [Back to top]



Who is this training not a good fit for?


  • Practitioners who are looking to study the specific diagnoses that clinicians use when providing mental health services


  • Practitioners who are looking to adapt their practices based on specific mental health diagnostic labels


  • Practitioners who believe in screening out certain parties based on their mental health histories


  • Practitioners looking for a one-size-fits-all solution for their practice, as opposed to something customized to their particular style of mediating or arbitrating

[Back to top]


Frequently Asked Questions


  • None of my parties have ever told me they have a mental illness.  Does this training still apply to my practice?


    Yes.  A fifth of adults are struggling with mental health symptoms whether they tell you or not.  Even if no one disclosed them, you may have suspected there were mental health issues present in some cases.  This training is essential for you to be impartial and accessible in those situations.


  • Will the accessibility training help me be accessible to other needs beyond mental health, such as disabilities?


    Yes.  This training teaches concepts of universal design and techniques for adjusting your processes so that they are more accessible for everyone – people with different communication preferences, for instance.


  • How will I access the trainings?


    You will receive links to access them on demand, which will be available to you by Wednesday December 7th or within two business days of your registration, if not sooner.  If you can watch a YouTube video, you can access this training content.



[Back to top]




Registration Details 

Enroll via Paypal payment of $199 by clicking here.  You can use all major Credit Cards do not need a PayPal account.  Registration closes on December 14, 2017.


[Back to top]