Mental Health Services for Individuals Under Supervision

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

BC Corrections partners with the Provincial Health Services Authority to provide health, mental health and addiction care to men and women in custody centres.

When a person comes into custody, they are assessed by health care staff to determine their mental health needs. The emphasis is on identifying seriously ill patients, preventing self-harm and providing treatment during incarceration.

B.C. 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 people 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 person within 24 hours of admission.

Individuals in custody who are diagnosed with mental illness are referred to mental health professionals for individual or group therapy and have specific case plans developed for them. Corrections staff also develop release plans for people with mental health needs, so services and supports are in place when they leave custody.

Corrections staff co-ordinate the assessment and treatment of people with mental health disorders who are supervised in the community. We work with the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission to link individuals with the proper supports to help them manage their mental health needs. Staff are also trained in cognitive behavioural techniques to motivate individuals and help them set goals.

Mental Health Strategy for Corrections in Canada

Senior BC Corrections staff led the development of the Mental Health Strategy for Corrections in Canada. The strategy seeks to ensure mentally ill individuals in custody receive progressive, consistent and meaningful care in custody and after release.

The strategy includes seven key elements:

  • Mental health promotion
  • Screening and assessment
  • Treatment, services and support
  • Suicide and self-injury prevention and management
  • Transitional services and support
  • Staff education, training and support
  • Community support and partnerships