Mental Health Services for Offenders

More than half of offenders in British Columbia's correctional system have an addiction, a mental illness or both. B.C. Corrections helps offenders meet these challenges while also working to increase public safety.

When an inmate comes into custody, each person is assessed to determine their mental health needs. The emphasis is on identifying seriously ill patients, preventing self-harm and suicide, and providing treatment during incarceration.

British Columbia is the only province with a Director of Mental Health Services, and each of its correctional centres has:

  • A mental health professional who coordinates services for inmates with mental illness
  • A mental health liaison officer who is a correctional officer with specialized training in mental health issues
  • Mental health screening of every inmate within 24 hours of admission

Offenders diagnosed with mental illness are referred to mental health professionals for individual or group therapy.

Offenders who need mental health support while they are in custody have specific case plans developed for them. Corrections staff also develops release plans for offenders with mental health needs so services and supports are available for them when they leave custody.

Corrections staff co-ordinate the assessment and treatment of offenders with mental health disorders who are in the community.

Mental Health Strategy for Corrections in Canada

Senior B.C. Corrections staff led the development of the Mental Health Strategy for Corrections in Canada (PDF). The strategy seeks to ensure mentally ill offenders receive progressive and consistent care in custody and after release.

The strategy includes seven key elements:

  1. Mental Health Promotion
  2. Screening and Assessment
  3. Treatment, Services and Support
  4. Suicide and Self-Injury Prevention and Management
  5. Transitional Services and Support
  6. Staff Education, Training and Support
  7. Community Support and Partnerships