Utah Department of Corrections

 

Mental Health Treatment

Since the de-institutionalization movement during the 1980s, prisons and jails throughout the nation have become primary mental health care providers for offenders in the criminal-justice system. Services provided by the Utah Department of Corrections are comprehensive and wide-ranging in scope.


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Administering Mental Health

Our mission is to provide comprehensive and cost-effective mental health treatment to those offenders who suffer from serious mental illnesses. Mental health is a complex field, and illnesses can run the gamut from mild depression or anxiety to severe psychosis and schizophrenia. Professionals use the DSM-IV axes and aim to treat the most severe issues (axes 1 & 2) in a special area of the prison called Olympus, where mental health professionals' offices are located and offenders are kept separate from the rest of population. Olympus is designed as a stand-alone housing unit for offenders with the most severe mental illnesses, where they can participate in a therapeutic environment that promotes appropriate stabilization and behavioral change.

Additionally, a comprehensive outpatient system is in place, where treatment services are provided to those offenders whose behavior and medications can be managed in general population. The Clinical Services Bureau also assists with therapy and medication management in some of the department's community correctional facilities, overseen by AP&P.

Corrections can also access two beds at the Utah State Hospital. Because safety is of paramount concern to Corrections, offenders with mental illnesses must rarely be housed in a high-security setting. This is true only for those offenders who have proven to be a danger either to themselves, or to inmates, staff, volunteers, visitors, or other people inside the institution. This is used as a last resort, and processes are in place for offenders to earn their way out of this environment. Mental health personnel continue to be available to offenders housed in this setting.

The prison is asked by society to perform a difficult task, and it always seeks to do so in a way that both maintains security, while also showing appropriate compassion and care for individuals in its custody.