The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 9 December 2011



(2011), "Editorial", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 6 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/jmhtep.2011.55506daa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Volume 6, Issue 4

The latest mental health strategy, No Health Without Mental Health (Her Majesty’s Government, 2011), sets out an inclusive approach to improving mental health outcomes for people of all ages. The strategy asserts that for this to be achieved integrated policy development is required across government departments for example the Department of Health and the Ministry of Justice. Such an approach recognises that individuals often have a complex and intertwined presentation of mental health issues that co-occur with other health-related needs. The challenge for services and practitioners to respond effectively is particularly apparent when individuals experience complex and serious mental health issues that require interventions spanning health care and other sectors especially the criminal justice system. The strategy highlights that over 60 per cent of individuals in hostel accommodation will have a personality disorder and 90 per cent of offenders in custody will have diagnosable mental health problems.

The National Service Framework for Women Offenders (Ministry of Justice and National Offender Management Service, 2008) followed on from the Corston Report in 2007 that highlighted the particular plight of women in custody who have mental health needs. The vision of the NSF is for timely access to services that provide interventions which address the specific needs of women offenders and are delivered in gender sensitive environments. A major tenet of the Corston Report (2007, www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/corston-report/) and the NSF is to “divert” women away from the criminal justice system wherever possible, recognising that custody is likely to impact negatively on women’s mental health; mediated in particular through restricted relationships their children and wider family/social networks.

Lord Bradley recommended setting up a national system of psychiatric liaison and diversion schemes by the end of 2014 and pilots are currently in place led by the Department of Health and Ministry of Justice. Primary care and forensic mental health services offer opportunities for diversion but the extent to which these services provide effective liaison, multi-agency arrangements for care delivery and women sensitive approaches and environments needs further exploration.

This edition of the journal, therefore, begins with three papers that explore the needs of women within this context. Hayley William’s paper asks whether primary care mental health workers have a role to play in improving outcomes for women who self-injure by offering low intensity psychosocial interventions. Ward and Bailey explore how involving women who self-injure in training for prison staff can make a positive contribution for improving health outcomes for women in jail. Cooke and Bailey describe women’s experiences of forensic services in a pilot study that highlights the importance of relationships with staff and family as key to improvements in mental health outcomes.

The remaining two papers in this edition provide a novel insight into mental health workforce issues. Benbow considers the key areas of skills and knowledge service users and carers highlight as important for staff working in this area of dementia care. Matthew Gough debates the dilemmas for mental health educators in disclosing personal experience of mental health issues in ways that are constructive to the learning experience of the workforce.

Taken together, these papers testify to the importance of combining service users and professionals’ experience and contributions to afford improved mental health outcomes in a range of settings. This approach embodies the spirit of the new mental health strategy.


Her Majesty’s Government (2011), No Health Without Mental Health: A Cross Government Mental Health Outcomes Strategy for People of All Ages, Her Majesty’s Government, London

Ministry of Justice and National Offender Management Service (2008), National Service Framework for Women Offenders, Ministry of Justice and National Offender Management Service, London

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