Training to improve collaborative practice: a key component of strategy to reduce mental ill health in the offender population
Internationally there are unacceptably high numbers of people in contact with the criminal justice system (e.g. in police custody, in court, in prison) who have mental health issues. Addressing mental health in the offender population is essential to maintain public safety, improve the wellbeing of the offender and their family, reduce reoffending and the impact of this on the public purse. Poor interagency and interprofessional working have been highlighted as key factors that have severely compromised patient and public safety in the past: working at the interface of the mental health services and criminal justice systems has been shown to be particularly challenging with complex communication and information sharing strategies being required. A key aspect of improving joint working is the delivery of a continuous or integrated rehabilitation pathway characterized by early diagnosis, treatment, appropriate sentencing or diversion of people away from the criminal justice system and into mental health services. Integrated, effective partnership working is required between these two systems. Training and development to assist and support staff involved in this team working endeavour is essential. Within the mental health/criminal justice arena the Bradley Report in the UK calls for joint training between agencies. To date there is little that suggests the content or format this training should take.
This chapter responds to this shortfall by exploring how the enhancement of collaborative practice between mental health services (MHS) and CJS can be seen as one element of the armory necessary to combat mental illness in the offender population. We explore why collaborative practice between different professionals and agencies is high on the agenda globally and why professionals within the MHS and CJS need to be trained to be able to work collaboratively in the interest of reducing mental ill health in the offender population. Although training of this type is largely absent in this area, we explore potential approaches to training focusing on both a systems and interpersonal level of analysis, giving some of examples of interprofessional training used in the MHS and CJS context to illustrate these approaches. A triple phase model of collaborative practice training for professionals within the MHS and CJS is proposed.
In Mental Health, Crime and Criminal Justice, Ed. Jane Winstone (in press)