In the UK, the mental health treatment requirement (MHTR) order for offenders on probation has been underused. A MHTR service was established to assess the effectiveness of a partnership between a probation service, a link worker charity and an independent mental healthcare provider. Short-term structured cognitive behavioural interventions were delivered by psychology graduates with relevant work experience and training. Training for the judiciary on the MHTR and the new service led to a significant increase in the use of MHTR orders. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
A total of 56 (of 76 MHTR offenders) completed treatment in the first 12 months. A single cohort pre-post follow-up design was used to evaluate change in the following domains: mental health and wellbeing; coping skills; social adjustment; and criminal justice outcomes. Mental health treatment interventions were delivered under supervision by two psychology graduates who had relevant work experience and who were trained in short term, structured, cognitive behavioural (CBT) interventions.
Clinically significant changes were obtained on measures of anxiety and depression, and on measures of social problem solving, emotional regulation and self-efficacy. Ratings of work and social adjustment and pre-post ratings of dynamic criminogenic risk factors also improved. This new initiative has addressed the moral argument for equality of access to mental health services for offenders given a community order.
While the current initiative represents one of a number of models designed to increase the collaboration between the criminal justice and the mental health systems, this is the first within the UK to deliver a therapeutic response at the point of sentencing for offenders with mental health problems. The significant increase in the provision of MHTR community orders in the first year of the project has been associated with a decrease in the number of psychiatric reports requested that are time consuming and do not lead to a rapid treatment.
Long, C.G., Dolley, O. and Hollin, C. (2018), "The use of the mental health treatment requirement (MHTR): clinical outcomes at one year of a collaboration", Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 215-233. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCP-01-2018-0003
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