Improving Collaborative Practice to Address Offender Mental Health: Criminal Justice and Mental Health Service Professionals' Attitudes Toward Interagency Training, Current Training Needs, and Constraints

Sarah Hean, Sue Staddon, LeeAnn Fenge, Andy Clapper, Vanessa Heaslip, Eleanor Jack


Background: Professionals from the mental health and criminal justice systems must collaborate effectively to address offender mental health, but interprofessional training is lacking. Pedagogical frameworks are required to support the development of training in this new area. To inform this framework, this article explores the readiness of professionals toward interprofessional training and demographic differences in these. It explores expectations of interprofessional training, perceived obstacles to collaborative working, interprofessional training needs, and challenges facing delivery.

Methods and Findings: A concurrent mixed methods approach collected data from professionals attending a crossing boundaries interprofessional workshop. Data were collected through a combination of the Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS) questionnaire (N = 52), free text questions (N = 52), and focus groups (N = 6). Mental health and criminal justice professionals' attitude toward interprofessional learning were positive (M = 17.81; N = 43). They did not see their own service as insular (M= 4.02; N = 44) and reported strong person centredness (M = 6.07; N = 43). These findings suggest professionals are open to the introduction and implementation of future interprofessional training. There were no significant demographic differences in these attitudes.

Conclusions: Professionals raised a range of generic curriculum and educator mechanisms in the development of future interprofessional training, suggesting the transfer of pedagogical frameworks from established interprofessional programs into this new arena is feasible. Context-specific factors, such as offender national policy agendas and the challenges of user involvement for mentally ill offenders, must be taken into account. Greater clarity on multi- versus interprofessional training is still required with this group of professionals.


Mental health; Offenders; Criminal justice; Interprofessional training

Full Text: