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Women Offender Programs and Issues

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The 2002 Mental Health Strategy For Women Offenders

Jane Laishes
Mental Health, Health Services



Although each institution need not provide on-site access to all components of the continuum, each institution must provide reasonable and appropriate access for offenders to all levels of care. Each institution must also ensure that their mental health program is managed by registered mental health professionals (CCRA Section 85).

The Institutional Standing Orders should reflect:

  1. the level and range of care, including information regarding the Structured Living Environments and other specialized mental health units or interventions,
  2. appropriate management and monitoring of mental health programs,
  3. mechanisms for horizontal communications and a mental health interdisciplinary team approach to ensure integration and consistency, and
  4. a process for continuous staff training.

Management must also ensure that the mental health professionals, psychologists, social workers, and others who are hired are highly skilled and knowledgeable and have the appropriate qualifications and experience to work effectively with women offenders. Ongoing mental health training is a priority to ensure that skills are maintained and staff are kept current on new developments in mental health. This will also ensure that the integrity of existing programs and services are maintained.