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Criminal Justice Issues for Individuals with Mental Health Conditions Will Be the Focus of a Special Clearinghouse Teleconference on May 18, 2015. Join us!

On May 18, 2015, at 1 p.m. ET, the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse will host a special one-hour national technical assistance and networking teleconference featuring a presentation on how to support individuals with mental health conditions who are incarcerated and how to help them transition successfully into the community. This will be followed by a discussion.

The call – part of the Clearinghouse’s monthly teleconference series – will be on Monday, May 18, 2015, at 1 p.m. ET, noon CT, 11 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT, 7 a.m. in Hawaii. The call-in number is 866-906-0123; the pass code is 5037195#.

According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report issued in 2006 – the most recent BJS information available – more than half of all those incarcerated in prison and jail had a mental health problem. This included 705,600 (56 percent) of individuals in State prisons, 78,800 (45 percent) in Federal prisons, and 479,900 (64 percent) in local jails. The number of individuals who had received mental health treatment – usually prescription medication – during their incarceration was only about one in three in State prisons, one in four in Federal prisons and one in six in jails.

At the same time, a number of state and local authorities have supported the development of a new forensic peer specialist workforce, which involves individuals with a history of mental health and/or incarceration who are in recovery and can provide support to others with criminal justice involvement. For example, beginning on June 22, 2015, the Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association will be hosting a three-day forensic peer support training for certified peer specialists and veteran certified peer specialists. In addition, the Behavioral Health Training and Education Network (BH TEN) in Philadelphia provides forensic peer support training. The Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania runs the Forensic Targeted Case Management project, which helps individuals coming out of prison obtain community services, including housing, outpatient treatment, medical care, and connection to benefits/entitlements. And New York City’s Nathaniel Project is an alternative to incarceration for individuals with serious mental health conditions who have committed felonies. But much more is needed.

The presenter will be LaVerne Miller, JD, Senior Project Associate at Policy Research Associates, Inc., which operates SAMHSA’s GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation. Previously an Assistant District Attorney in New York County, Ms. Miller has since devoted her career to ensuring that the voices of individuals with mental health conditions, family members and youth – particularly individuals with histories of involvement with the Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice systems – are included in the planning, implementation, service delivery and evaluation of grant-supported projects. She is also deeply committed to addressing disparities and ensuring that individuals from underserved communities are partners in the design, planning and implementation of services in their communities. Before joining PRA, Ms. Miller was Director of the Howie T. Harp Peer Advocacy Center in New York City for more than 10 years. She has lived experience of a mental health condition.

Join us on May 18th at 1 p.m. ET! Again, the call-in number is 866-906-0123. The passcode is 5037195.