What Is Forensic Mental Health?
People who are in prison have higher rates of mental illness than in the general population, so forensic mental health services provided by FPA Med help to provide assessments and treatment for these people.
Forensic psychiatrists like our professionals at FPA Med are one area of specialty that can help people who are at higher risk of committing a criminal offense or those who have a history of criminal offenses.
Police or judges might refer offenders to a forensic psychiatrist for evaluation. These individuals are also sometimes referred by other health or mental health agencies or justice leagues. Forensic psychiatrists often provide services in prison, in hospitals, in mandated court-ordered treatment centers and even in the community.
The forensic professional will evaluate the individual in question to determine whether they have a mental illness and whether they have a current need for mental health treatment. The professional will also determine the person’s state of mind when they committed the offense, and determine whether they are even capable of making and understanding a plea in court.
The term mental illness is very broad and refers to many different illnesses which can be classified into two groups: psychotic and non-psychotic illnesses. A person with a psychotic illness has hallucinations, delusions and a distorted view of reality; two examples are bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. In non-psychotic illnesses, people have anxiety, tension, overwhelming sadness, and have great difficulty coping with everyday life. Depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias and anxiety disorders are all examples.
Forensic mental health professionals see a variety of people who have these illnesses. They may see prisoners who need a mental health assessment or who need help managing a mental illness or who need inpatient treatment. These professionals may also see people who are accused of crimes as well as those found not guilty of a crime based on mental illness or impairment. Forensic psychiatrists also see people who are too difficult or unsafe to manage with mainstream mental health services, or people who have serious mental illnesses who are at high risk of offending or who have offended within their own communities. Our doctors even serve as expert witnesses in court trials.
What treatment options are available to people with mental health issues in the criminal justice system? Forensic psychiatrists can offer a variety of treatments including individual or group counseling, rehabilitation programs that seek to return the person safely to the community, or medications like antipsychotics and antidepressants.
Just remember that forensic mental health services at FPA Med are there for offenders or those at risk for offending because of a mental illness.