Bailey, D. and Carson, J. (2012), "Editorial", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 7 No. 4. https://doi.org/10.1108/jmhtep.2012.55507daa.001
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Volume 7, Issue 4
In 2009 Lord Bradley published his report into the experiences of those with mental health problems and learning disabilities in the criminal justice system. The report recognised the needs of offenders as a socially excluded population and their greater vulnerability to mental ill health. Bradley’s recommendations included diversion from custody as a pillar of effective intervention, acknowledging that prison is not in many cases the right environment for those with severe mental illness. The need for more effective and continuous care for those in custody, and through the process of resettlement, was also highlighted.
Bradley’s findings highlighted the need for early intervention approaches, models of primary mental health care in custody and combined care for people with dual diagnosis and personality disorders. The Mental Health Treatment Requirement was reinforced as a condition of community sentences that could be used to more often to ensure offenders received much needed mental health interventions.
The threads of Bradley’s report have been picked up and progressed by national organisations such as the Offender Health Research Network (OHRN, 2011), in their 2011 review of community service initiatives. As part of their review, the OHRN explored the network of Pathfinder services set up by the DH (2009) as a national network of liaison/division schemes.
In addition to custodial care, Bradley recognised the importance of local and regional initiatives, often delivered in partnership with the independent sector to support resettlement. One such example is Lancashire Link (2012), a local involvement network that has captured the direct experience of offenders with mental health needs. A report in 2012 highlights the adverse effect that prison has on mental health and testifies to the mixed experiences of offenders in securing the care they need. While some reported good experiences through involvement with the prison mental health team, others narrated a lack of access to mental health care with their needs down played as secondary to prison discipline.
In the light of the above it was interesting that the call for papers for this special edition yielded more contributions with a focus on forensic services than those directed at offenders with mental health needs in the CJS. This reinforces the importance of secure psychiatric settings as part of the fabric of diversion services.
In the first of two papers on custodial care, Jordan debates the method of interview as a data collection approach in one prison setting. Picking up the theme of initiatives to support offenders with mental health needs in custody and through resettlement, De Motte et al. explore the role of prison visiting in promoting female offenders’ mental health
The remaining three papers relate to the needs of individuals in forensic mental health settings. Lowings and Wicks explore the use of individual education plans to aid the assessment of neurophysiological deficits while Bagshaw et al. consider how attachment behaviour between staff and service users plays a role in mediating successful clinical relationships Finally, Mott et al. considers the use of personal defence training in dealing with violence in the medium secure unit.
All of the papers provide evidence of innovative approaches and interventions that can benefit those with the complex interplay of care needs associated with mental ill health and offending behaviour. A challenging population without doubt, requiring creative solutions to care and treatment in order to tackle the double disadvantage, and social exclusion acknowledged by Bradley.Di Bailey, Jerome Carson
DH (2009), The Bradley Report, DH, London
Lancashire Link (2012), “More than a sentence”, Investigating Mental Health in Prisons, available at: paulh@theBHA.org.uk
OHRN (2011), Alternatives to Custody for People with Mental Health Problems, Offender Health Research Network, University of Manchester, Manchester