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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Community mental health services and the prevalence of severe mental illness in local jails: are they related?

Author: Fisher, W.H; Packer, I.K; Simon, L.J; Smith, D
Author Background:
Date 7/2000
Type Journal
Journal Title: Administration-and-Policy-in-Mental-Health
Volume/Pages 27(6): 382
Subject Matter Mental-illness; Mental-health-services; Community-mental-health-centers; Criminal-justice-system
Abstract The excessive prevalence of severe mental illness noted in correctional settings has sometimes been attributed to the inadequacy of community-based mental health services. This study examines the prevalence of severe mental illness in two jails situated within catchment areas featuring markedly different levels of community mental health services. The study tests the hypothesis that greater levels of services in a community are associated with lower prevalence of severe mental illness in the community's jail. An epidemiologic approach, using standardized field instruments, was used to estimate the prevalence of major mental illness in detainees arriving at the two sites over a 6-month period. The hypothesis was not supported. These findings suggest that community-based mental health services by themselves do not affect the prevalence of mental illness in jail. (Journal abstract, edited.)