Psychiatrists Applaud Correctional Investigator's Recommendations to Improve
Care for Mentally Disordered Offenders

OTTAWA, Nov. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - Psychiatrists support the Correctional Investigator's recommendations to improve the mental health care federal inmates receive. The series of recommendations around increasing the mental health care capacity of each region to a common national standard is seen as critical by the Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA).

"Humane care for offenders with mental illness is in the public interest. Appropriate care will greatly reduce the risk for criminal recidivism and allow inmates to re-enter society as contributing members," states Dr. Stanley Yaren, the President of the CPA and Director of the Adult Forensic Psychiatry Program for Manitoba.

"Correctional Services of Canada's (CSC) mental health strategy to improve mental health care for federal offenders is well-intentioned but has run into implementation roadblocks. The recommendations contained in Mr. Howard Sapers' annual report outline many of the steps needed to remove these barriers to better care," says Dr. Yaren.

Provincial and federal corrections and the community mental health sector need to work together to deliver optimal care suggests Dr. Yaren. "Until services to mentally disordered offenders are coordinated to ensure a seamless transition across jurisdictions, offenders with mental illness will continue to fall through the cracks between these silos," he notes. Within CSC, institutional and front line staff should be consulted more broadly on how to implement mental health services in prison.

More mental health professionals are needed in the corrections system to deliver better coordinated, multi-disciplinary treatment similar to that available in the community mental health care system. However services in some regions are in short supply and alternatives to duplicating these services, such as contracting services through provincial health authorities, should be considered. Greater flexibility is also needed to allow individual regions and institutions to develop mental health care strategies within a framework of federal standards. Although economies can be made through such collaboration, more money is essential to successfully implement the CSC's mental health strategy.

Psychiatrists also support Mr. Saper's proposal to review the use of long-term segregation as well as to develop national standards and a strategy to manage self-harm behaviours-issues closely linked to mental health.

The Canadian Psychiatric Association is the national voice for Canada's 4,100 psychiatrists and more than 600 psychiatric residents. Founded in 1951, the CPA is dedicated to promoting an environment that fosters excellence in the provision of clinical care, education and research.

SOURCE Canadian Psychiatric Association

For further information: For further information: Hélène Côté, Canadian Psychiatric Association, Tel: (613) 794-9663 or hcote@cpa-apc.org

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