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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. Visit Mental Health and the Law at mentalhealthcommission.ca to learn more.

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. In appreciation, you’ll be automatically entered in a contest where you could win a cash prize or gift certificate. *

Disclaimer:

  • Completion of the form is voluntary.
  • The information collected by the Mental Health Commission of Canada will only be used for the purpose described above.
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

SURVEY CONTEST MINI RULES

No purchase necessary. Open to residents of Canada age 13+ who are the intended recipient of an invitation to complete the Mental Health Commission of Canada survey and participate in the contest. Starts October 3, 2022 at 12:00 a.m. ET and ends March 15, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. ET. 6 prizes available: (i) 1 x $500 CAD online retailer gift certificate prize; and (ii) 5 x $50 CAD online retailer gift certificate prizes. Limit 1 entry per person/email. Odds depend on number of eligible entries. Math skill-testing question required. Click here to read Full rules and entry details.

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