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Leadership, training, and educational opportunities 

Leadership, training, and educational opportunities
Leadership, training, and educational opportunities

Raymond F. Patterson

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date: 27 May 2019

Correctional settings hold a range of opportunities for Psychiatrists to assume leadership roles. The increase in the number of detainees and inmates who require mental health services has created numerous administrative and clinical opportunities for psychiatrists. The ‘front end’ of arrest and pretrial determinations has been a longstanding component of forensic practice, related to competence, criminal responsibility, and probation. Following incarceration, assessment of mental health needs, access to care, and provision of treatment as well as quality improvement partially constitute the jail and prison components of mental health services. The ‘aftercare’ aspect of mental health services in correctional psychiatry involves individuals released on parole with need and/or requirement for mental health treatment. The leadership role for psychiatrists working in correctional environments is distinctly different from typical psychiatric venues where the psychiatrist and other mental health professionals are ‘in control;’ in correctional environments, the dynamics are different and require collaboration and advocacy. Within correctional systems it is essential that ‘correctional culture’ be understood by the psychiatric/mental health leadership. With effective psychiatric leadership, mental health care delivery and its coordination with correctional management of prisoners both stand to be improved. The need for dedicated and qualified leadership for mental health services and appropriate education and training in correctional mental health practices provide remarkable opportunities for psychiatrists. Psychiatrists and other health care professionals must be educated and trained to provide the necessary leadership for these extraordinarily complex systems of care and confinement.

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