Interagency working between courts and mental health services: the Implications for interprofessional education and training

This source preferred by Vanessa Heaslip and Sarah Hean

Authors: Hean, S., Warr, J., Heaslip, V. and Staddon, S.

Start date: 20 May 2009

Background/Rationale The prevalence of mental health issues in prison populations is exacerbated by ineffective screening for mental illness during earlier contact with the criminal justice system (CJS). Effective screening is reliant on cooperation between the CJS and mental health services. Interagency working has proved difficult in the past as might be expected of working between public services so distinct in expectations, priorities and working culture. Poor interprofessional working leads to court proceedings and public safety being compromised. Further, mentally disordered defendants face inappropriate imprisonment and fail to access community support/treatment. The aim of work is to explore the nature of interprofessional working at the interface of working between the CJS and the mental health services.

Methods Data was collected through a cross sectional survey of court (n=479) and mental health workers (n=146).

Results Attitudes towards defendants and willingness to work across agencies were comparable across agencies. Procedural expectations varied as did awareness, feelings of efficacy and levels of training that supports better interagency working. Conclusions We discuss the implication of findings for future interprofessional training needs of both court and mental health services. We compare and contrast these with current interprofessional education whose focus is almost exclusively on relationships between health and social care professionals.

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