Mental disorder refers to a continuum of psychiatric conditions resulting in an individual’s clinically expressed disability that controls one thing thought, actions and emotions as a result of underlying intellectual disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2015). Mental disorder is a big problem in Canada in correctional facilities. In 2015, 49%, 44% and 29% of psychiatric diseases were alcohol, drugs or substance abuse, antisocial personality disorders and anxiety disorders (The Statistics Portal, 2015).
In the correctional institutions, the Canadian authorities have launched measures to protect people with mental illness. The identification and diagnosis of mental disorders has been enhanced by a routine screening program during intake. As a result, inmates with high risks of injurious behaviors such as suicide are diagnosed early and appropriate intervention instituted (Sapers, 2013). The Computerized Mental Health Intake Screening System is a system designed to identify offenders who may need mental health services and has been employed with significance success in Canadian Correctional Facilities (Stewart & Wilton, 2012).
Several governmental legislations and policies have been formulated to protect the welfare of inmates with mental illnesses such as the Corrections and Release Act, the Canadian Health Act, as well as territorial laws e.g. Ontario Health Protection Act (Kouyoumdjian, Schuler, & Matheson, 2016). The isolation of inmates with mental disorders may be carried out when offenders face possible danger such as being assaulted if they remain in the general prison population. Administrative segregation strategy could be voluntary or involuntary (Motiuk & Branchete, 2013).
Training of officers manning mental illness prisoners has been carried out to enhance their skills in handling mentally unstable subjects within their jurisdiction. It includes the equipping them with knowledge on how to identify prisoners with high risk factors for developing mental disorders.
In conclusion, mentally ill populations within correctional facilities form part of the vulnerable individuals within correctional facilities and strategies to protect from harm are a necessity.
American Psychiatric Association. (2015). “Use of the manual”. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. American Psychiatric Association. doi:10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.UseofDSM5
Kouyoumdjian, F., Schuler, A., & Matheson, F.I. (2016). Health status of prisoners in Canada. Canadian Family Physician, 215-222.
Motiuk, L., & Branchete, K. (2013). Characteristics of administratively segregated offenders in federal corrections. Canadian Journal of Criminology, 39, 4-20.
Sapers, H. (2013). Annual report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator, 20122013. Otawa: The correctional investigator Canada. Retrieved from www.ocibec.gc.ca/cnt/rpt/pdf/annrpt/annrpt20122013-eng.pdf.
The Statistics Portal. (2015). Statistica. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/562884/estimated-distribution-of-mental-health-issues-of-male-inmates-canada/
Stewart, L.A. & Wilton, G. (2011). Validation of the Computerised Mental Health Intake Screening System (CoMHISS) in a federal male offender population. Research Report R 244. Ottawa, ON., Correctional Service of Canada.
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