If you are in distress, you can text 988 at any time. If it is an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency department.

Home › Resources › Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System

Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System

Mental health problems and illnesses are substantially higher among persons involved with the criminal justice system than in the general population and are increasing over time.

Without adequate support and services in the community, many persons with mental illness continue to cycle through the prisons, hospitals, and shelters—at great cost to persons with mental illness, their caregivers and society.

What we are doing


The MHCC has been engaging with mental health and criminal justice professionals, service providers and people with lived experience. Our conversations have revealed a few key service and system needs:

  • Early intervention and prevention supports and services prior to incarceration
  • Independence in the oversight and provision of health and mental health services in corrections
  • Improved quality of standards for mental health supports and services in corrections
  • Better continuity of care from the community to correctional facilities and vice versa
  • Discharge planning and access to meaningful supports upon release

Quick Facts

  • Persons living with a mental health problem or illness are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators of it.
  • Mental illness rates for persons incarcerated in the federal system are 3x as high as in the general population.
  • Suicide rates for persons in federal custody are nearly 7x as high and about 4x as high for persons in provincial custody as in the general population.

We are continuing to explore this important area of work.

Feedback Form

Hey, thanks for checking out this resource. After you’ve seen it, we’d love to learn a bit more about your interests and how you found us. Was the information what you looking for? Was it helpful? We’ll use any feedback you provide to further improve what we do.

Are you willing to be contacted within 3 to 6 months for a short follow-up survey?
In case of “Yes” – please provide an email address
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

SHARE THIS PAGE

RELATED

This webinar offers insights on the mental health impacts of the high cost of living on diverse communities and explores the complex relationship between mental health and money, housing, food,...

The mental health and substance use health (MHSUH) impacts of COVID-19 and the overdose crisis have increased the gap between what the population needs and what the service system can...

What am I getting wrong about mental health? While people in Canada are talking about mental health more than ever, misconceptions in the media and elsewhere are keeping the stigma...