Youth Psychiatric Assessment and Treatment
Youth offenders who are in custody or under community supervision may also be referred for psychiatric assessment and treatment. Usually this is because of:
- Involvement in violent or sexual offences
- Mental health or behaviour problems
Referrals for assessment or treatment are made by probation officers, custody centres or as part of a court order.
Medical, psychiatric or psychological assessments (called “forensic assessments”) are sometimes ordered by the court to help with sentencing. A psychiatrist or licensed psychologist is responsible for the forensic assessment report - they need to:
- Let the young person know about the evaluation process and what will happen with the information shared
- Do their best to work in cooperation with the young person and their family
- Provide their opinions and findings in the report along with supporting information
A forensic assessment is different from other kinds of psychiatric or psychological assessments because:
- The goal is to provide a medical, psychiatric or psychological assessment to assist the court in making a decision – the primary purpose is legal, not medical or psychological
- There is no therapeutic relationship between the psychologist or physician and the young person
- Unlike most communications between a "patient" and therapist, forensic assessments have limited confidentiality - personal information about the young person, their family and their social environment is shared with the court and probation officers
Ethical guidelines are shifted in the interest of public safety and the court’s need for information.
The Burnaby Inpatient Assessment Unit (IAU) is a designated mental health facility and place of temporary custody that provides:
- Assessment and treatment services for troubled youth when a court orders it
- Short-term care and custody of young people found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder, or not fit to stand trial
Specialized treatment programs for youths who have been convicted of sexual or violent offences and are at risk of repeating their behaviour are also available by referral or court order. Programs are offered at outpatient clinics or youth custody centres.