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Evidence-Based Enhancement of the Detection, Prevention, and Treatment of Mental Illness in the Correction Systems, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2005
39 pages
This study developed and tested a short mental health screening instrument for the assessment of jail detainees.
Factors such as the bulging correctional population and an increase in detained persons who suffer from mental illness have led to the need to develop a brief mental health screening instrument for detainees within the adult correctional system. The current study developed and tested the Brief Mental Health Screening Tool to enhance the identification of psychiatric disorders among adult detainees. Participants were 670 women and 1,526 men of various ethnicities who had no officially defined serious mental health condition and were randomly recruited within 24 to 72 hours of entering State-run jails in Connecticut. Participants completed a 25-minute screening interview, after which 20 percent of the participants were asked to complete a longer interview 1 week later to establish a more detailed account of Axis I and Axis II psychiatric disorders and psychosocial functioning. Finally, the new Brief Mental Health Screening Tool was tested on 206 participants. Results of statistical analyses indicated that the prevalence of mental health disorders among jail detainees was higher or higher than that found in psychiatric settings, particular personality disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is expected that the dissemination of the Brief Mental Health Screening Tool to correctional facilities will aid in the early detection and treatment of mental illness among the Nation's detainees. References, appendixes, tables

Date Published: August 1, 2005