Meeting the Needs of Justice-Involved People With Serious Mental Illness Within Community Behavioral Health Systems | Psychiatric Services
Source: Psychiatry Online
Resource Type: Website or Webpage Article
Focus Population: People with Criminal Justice System Involvement, People with Serious Mental Illness (SMI)
Topics: Criminal or Juvenile Justice System, Psychiatric or Mental Health Stabilization, Recovery from Mental Health or Substance Use Disorders
The overrepresentation of people with serious mental illness in the criminal justice system is a complex problem. A long-standing explanation for this phenomenon, the criminalization hypothesis, posits that policy changes that shifted the care of people with serious mental illness from psychiatric hospitals to an underfunded community treatment setting resulted in their overrepresentation within the criminal justice system. This framework has driven the development of interventions to connect people with serious mental illness to needed mental health and substance use treatment, a critical component for people in need. However, the criminalization hypothesis is a limited explanation of the overrepresentation of people with serious mental illness in the criminal justice system because it downplays the social and economic forces that have contributed to justice system involvement in general and minimizes the complex clinical, criminogenic, substance use, and social services needs of people with serious mental illness. A new approach is needed that focuses on addressing the multiple factors that contribute to justice involvement for this population. Although the authors’ proposed approach may be viewed as aspirational, they suggest that an integrated community-based behavioral health system—i.e., intercept 0—serve as the focal point for coordinating and integrating services for justice-involved people with serious mental illness.