People with a severe mental disorder who commit a crime and who are imprisoned have different characteristics compared to people who are hospitalized at a psychiatric institution after committing an offence, according to researchers at the Institut universitaire en sant mentale de Montral (IUSMM) and the Institut Philippe-Pinel de Montral (IPPM), affiliated with the University of Montreal.
This research compared the characteristics of men who suffer from serious mental disorders and who were either imprisoned or declared NCRMD and hospitalized in a forensic psychiatry care unit after committing a crime. Researchers found higher levels of schooling and greater use of specialized mental health services in people who were declared NCRMD than people who are incarcerated; and greater history of suicide attempts, criminal activity with or without violence and more concomitant drug or alcohol disorders and a higher level of psychopathy among incarcerated people.
Lead author of the study Dr. Alexandre Dumais said, "The characteristics of incarcerated people put them on a path to criminal behavior and prevent them from getting the psychiatric care they need. People who commit an offence need to serve their time, but they also need care if they suffer from an illness. New shared care models between the legal and health care systems need to be implemented so that these patients can get better treatment and so that we can reduce their risk of violent and antisocial behavior. Some countries have launched initiatives in this area, but these programs haven't been formally tested with rigorous research methods. Further studies should look at these models to determine which are ones are effective."