January 16, 2006

Handbook on Criminalization of Mentally ill

Online Handbook Addresses Criminalization of People with Mental Illnesses

A new online resource is available for mental health organizations and advocates who want to improve the response to people with mental illnesses who come into contact with the criminal justice system. The Criminal Justice/Mental Health Advocacy Handbook is a how-to guide that walks users through a well-organized series of five steps with concise pages, documented with examples from various states and localities.

The first step explains how and why people with mental illnesses are over-represented in the criminal justice system and summarizes the keys to improving outcomes for them. A second section asks and answers common questions to counter misunderstandings about such matters as violence by people with mental illnesses and lack of resources for appropriate alternative programs. Subsequent web pages describe the audience for effective advocacy and explain, among other things, how to engage the media, form a coalition, conduct a campaign and build advocacy alliances. A final section has lists of and links to advocacy resources and potential funding sources.

More Info, see: Criminal Justice/Mental Health Advocacy Handbook Table of Contents

Source: Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law


Anger Management and Schizophrenia

Anger management is not therapy. Anger management is education. It is our hope to assist you in becoming aware of anger and teach you techniques to handle it. In the case of a mentally ill individual the cause of their rage is often of a chemical nature. Anger management education may only deter the individual from getting professional psychological help.

Jason was a 23- year tall lanky African American young man. He grew up in the inner city of Los Angeles. Although cliché he loved to play basketball and aspired to be a rap artist. Jason’s father escorted his son to his first anger management class. They described to me a series of incidents in which Jason slashed his girlfriend tires, followed her throughout the city and then threatened her life. As a consequence he was ordered to complete 26 hours of anger management education. Jason was extremely difficult to instruct in class. He was disruptive and seemed not to possess the ability to take responsibility for his actions. In fact he was convinced that his girlfriend, his father, the police and eventually myself were out to get him. After several absences Jason’s father informed me that it had become progressively difficult to convince Jason to complete his anger management classes. He would leave the house for day and could not account for his whereabouts. Jason attended one more class before I lost contact with him. His father accompanied him. Once neatly groomed, Jason appeared disheveled and unkept. His hair was randomly twisted in sections and his clothes reluctantly hung from his body. Jason’s dad informed me that this would be his last session as Jason was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I recalled my abnormal psych classes and new that the disease often strikes between the ages of 17 and 25. I wished them both good luck and closed his file.

Posted by: Shannon Munford at January 27, 2006 11:25 AM

How can you simply close a file when the Court ordered his completion of the Anger Management Class? Did the Court assign to you this case or did he just show up on your door step? Are there any State programs into which this person can be sent? He is obviously a danger to himself and others. Who will be responsible when he hurts himself or someone else?
Did you even try to talk to him once you decided on your diagnosis?

Posted by: Steve Doornbos at February 2, 2006 01:58 PM

The file was closed because the client refused treatment. He was no longer willing to attend the class

Posted by: Shannon Munford at July 13, 2006 11:36 AM

This is an old entry but worth responding to. This case was not handled appropriately. Non licensed clinicians should not attempt to provide services for psychiatrically disabled clients.

Posted by: George Anderson at April 25, 2007 03:56 PM

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