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The Mental Health Needs of Justice-Involved Persons – Infographics

Who Experiences Mental Health Problems in the Criminal Justice System?

Academic researchers and policy-makers agree that people who live with mental health problems and illnesses are overrepresented in criminal justice systems, in Canada and globally.

Rates of serious mental illness, such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and psychotic disorders, are anywhere from two to three times higher for incarcerated persons in comparison to the community.

Justice-involved persons who are incarcerated are nearly three times more likely to use psychotropic medications.

Experiences and histories of trauma, including sexual, physical and mental abuse, are more common among justice involved persons than non-justice-involved persons.

In federal institutions, instances of self-injurious behaviour or non-suicidal self-injury more than doubled between 2008 and 2013 with fewer individuals having more experiences.

What Evidence-Based and Promising Practices Address Mental Health Needs in the Criminal Justice System and the Community After Release?

Mental health courts and other forms of courtbased diversion have been positively evaluated in Canada, though they continue to evolve and depend on the availability of appropriate mental health care resources in the community.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) are evidence-based practices that can effectively address some mental health needs within corrections.

What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know?

This scoping review affirms the following recommendations set out in a 2015
consultation by mental health and justice stakeholders and published by Crocker et al.

  • Support families caring for loved ones who experience mental health problems or illnesses and become justice-involved
  • Support community mental health services attending to aggressive behaviour and offering coordinated services that address mental health needs
  • Have a unified model of care and discharge planning that spans the gap between corrections and mental health services in the community
  • Address the stigma of justice involvement and mental illness in the media and public discourse
  • Address inadequate reintegration, including promoting inclusive community mental health services, safe and adequate housing, etc.
  • Establish a consistent, high-quality standard of specialized resources for mental health in correctional settings

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