Mental health services for women offenders

Women are more likely to have a diagnosis of a major psychiatric disorder than men. They are also approximately twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. Research shows that incarcerated women have a significantly higher incidence of mental disorders than women in the broader societal population.

These disorders include:

  • schizophrenia
  • major depression
  • substance abuse disorders
  • psychosexual dysfunction
  • anti-social personality disorders

CSC’s continuum of care

Correctional Service Canada (CSC) uses a mental health continuum of care strategy to address the mental health needs of women offenders. It emphasizes that mental health strategies should:

  • focus on wellness
  • be women-centred
  • encourage client participation
  • use the least restrictive measures possible

For more information on CSC’s mental health strategies visit:

CSC routinely screens women offenders at intake to identify those who may need a more comprehensive assessment/intervention. CSC:

  • houses minimum- or medium-security women with mental health needs and/or cognitive limitations in:
    • structured living environments
  • helps women offenders with extra mental health needs (regardless of their security level classification) at the:
    • national treatment centres

Specialized programming for women offenders

CSC offers a mental health program, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), specifically to women offenders. It is an intensive treatment for people who have great difficulty regulating their emotions and behaviours. DBT offers:

  • skills training sessions
  • 24-hour coaching
  • treatment team consultations
  • sessions with a psychologist
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