Court Mental Health Liaison and Diversion Services (CMHLDS) have developed in some countries as a response to the over-representation of mental illness and other vulnerabilities amongst defendants presenting to criminal justice (or correctional) systems. This study examined the characteristics and rates of mental disorder of 9088 defendants referred to CMHLDS.
The study analysed service level data, obtained from the National Health Service’s mental health data set, to examine characteristics relating to gender, ethnicity and comorbidity of common mental and neurodevelopmental disorders at five CMHLDS across London between September 2015 and April 2017.
The sample included 7186 males (79.1%) and 1719 females (18.9%), the gender of 183 (2%) were not recorded. Of those referred, 6616 (72.8%) presented with an identifiable mental disorder and 503 (5.5%) with a neurodevelopmental disorder (NDD). Significantly higher rates of schizophrenia were reported amongst Black defendants (n = 681; 37.2%) and Asian defendants (n = 315; 29%), while higher rates of depression were found amongst White defendants (n = 1007; 22.1%). Substance misuse was reported amongst 2813 defendants (31%), and alcohol misuse amongst 2111 (23.2%), with significantly high rates of substance and alcohol misuse amongst defendants presenting with schizophrenia or personality disorder.
This is one of the largest studies to examine mental health needs and vulnerabilities amongst defendants presenting to CMHLDS. It will enable an improved understanding of the required service designs and resources required to manage the healthcare pathways for people attending CMHLDS.
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