New Mental Health Standards Coming in 2015

Posted Oct 16, 2014

With the 2014 editions of the Standards for Health Services for jails and prisons published earlier this year, NCCHC convened an expert task force to likewise update the Standards for Mental Health Services in Correctional Facilities. The task force’s work is now complete and the manual will be published early in 2015.

This revision is timely given the increasing interest in quality improvement in mental health services provided in correctional settings. This second edition represents the culmination of hundreds of hours of careful review by a large group of experts, including specialists in psychiatry, psychology, social work and professional counseling. The task force was the core group that shepherded the review process. This group then elicited and reviewed recommendations and suggestions from correctional mental health care experts as well as feedback from the field.

The task force was co-chaired by Thomas Fagan, PhD, CCHP-MH, and Henry Weinstein, MD, CCHP. Other members were Sharen Barboza, PhD, CCHP-MH, Edwin Megargee, PhD, CCHP-MH, Joseph Penn, MD, CCHP, Judith Robbins, LCSW, CCHP-MH, CCHP-A, and Nancy White, LPC.

More Insight Into What the Standards Require
As with the first edition, the manual aligns with the jail and prison Standards, but makes more explicit what the standards require for constitutionally acceptable delivery of mental health services. Furthermore, the task force discussed every standard in the 2014 editions to come to consensus on what would carry over to the mental health manual. Because of the targeted focus of these standards, not every standard in the jail and prison manuals appears in the mental health manual. For example, standards on chronic disease services, nursing assessment protocols and medical diets are omitted from the mental health manual.

Ultimately, the mental health standards are a valuable tool to help correctional facilities determine proper levels of care, organize systems more effectively and efficiently, and demonstrate that constitutional requirements are being met. They also are the foundation of NCCHC’s mental health services accreditation program.

The field will get its first look at the new standards at a preconference seminar at NCCHC’s National Conference on Correctional Health Care, Oct. 18-22 in Las Vegas.