In Canada, people with mental illnesses are three times more likely to get arrested than those without a disorder. The justice system has “diversion programs” to help people with mental illnesses who are charged with, or convicted of, a crime. We know these programs reduce repeat-offender rates and homelessness. But what makes these programs so successful? And what are the challenges of implementing them? Researchers in Ontario interviewed nine program directors from across the province about the structure and development of their diversion programs, and about the challenges they face in implementing them.
The results show that to create a successful program, the justice and mental healthcare systems need to develop a strong integrated relationship. Also the mental healthcare system needs to be flexible and accommodate the rigid legal system.
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