Assessing Mental Health in the Criminal Justice System with TCU

Social Solutions Blog

Assessing Mental Health in the Criminal Justice System with TCU

Analyzing the Problem

Mental health diagnoses are increasingly common among those in the criminal justice system. Experts have estimated that over ten million people cycle in and out of corrections each year. Recent studies suggest that at least 16 percent of inmates in jails and prisons have a serious mental illness. Three decades ago, the percentage was 6.4 percent. According to the Urban Institute, an estimated 56 percent of state prisoners, 45 percent of federal prisoners, and 64 percent of jail inmates have a mental health problem of some type.

These numbers are staggering. The prevalence of mental illness across offender populations indicates a substantial need for mental health treatment.

The TCU Treatment System

In order to provide the most effective treatment, it is critical that both community organizations and correctional institutions utilize assessment and screening tools to inform that treatment. The TCU Treatment System looks at mental health and substance addiction, as they are often co-occurring. The TCU system assesses both the needs and progress of offenders involved in the criminal justice system. This evidence-based system is composed of:

  • Initial screening, in order to evaluate whether a disorder or diagnosis is present
  • Assessment, which defines the natures of the problem
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment plan
  • Repeated assessments to monitor treatment effectiveness

This allows for treatment that speaks to the specific needs of the offender and allows for evaluation of how the treatment is working throughout the process.

The TCU tools are able to determine an offender’s readiness to change, to measure their level of criminal thinking, to help determine their level of psychological functioning, and to help evaluate their social function. As treatment progresses, measures continue to be taken and allow for treatment to be adjusted for individuals and when looked at across the board, allow organizations to adjust their overall treatment options.

TCU’s assessments can be administered individually or in a group at any point in the treatment process. Results can easily be shared with the offenders, the state department of corrections, or a funding entity. With resources limited in the field of corrections and criminal justice, it is critical that interventions for offenders be both proven and continually monitored for successful outcomes.

Gender and Mental Health Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

Compared with incarcerated men, women are more likely to have coexisting psychiatric disorders for which they are taking prescribed medications, and they report higher overall rates of depression and anxiety, lower self-esteem, and more severe substance abuse histories. The TCU assessment has been shown to have value in identifying the mental health needs of women in correctional settings.

Learn More About the TCU Process

If you want to learn more about the TCU process, check out our webinar. It explains how to utilize TCU tools to help assess and treat mental health disorders and substance abuse among incarcerated individuals.

Simplifying Assessment in Criminal Justice and Treatment Settings

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