What are some guidelines to support those who have a serious mental illness, either diagnosed or suspected, in the prison system?

This population is vulnerable, both because of their status as a prisoner and also due to a suspected or diagnosed serious mental illness, and needs special consideration as they enter and continue in the system.

Some approaches that work for those with mental health issues who are also in the criminal justice system are listed by SAMHSA and were updated in 2019 and can be found here.

There are guidelines, published in 2017, by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the United Kingdom that provide an excellent framework for care quality for this population in this setting. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Guideline on Mental Health of Adults in Contact with the Criminal Justice System provide guidance from intake, through assessment, care, and maintenance.

A position statement on how those with mental health issues should be treated in the criminal justice system can be found here.

Families and supports may benefit from NAMI’s Navigating a Mental Health Crisis Guide which includes information about what to do when your loved one is incarcerated.

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