Systematic change for the mentally ill: A qualitative study examining co-occurring individuals in the community
Mental health disorders are illnesses involving health conditions of individuals within the human body (e.g., Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Schizophrenia Disorder). These health conditions can be exhibited as changes in thinking, mood, or behavior, often associated with distress and impaired functioning of the neurological system. Many individuals living in the community suffer from co-occurring illnesses (mental health illnesses together with substance use illnesses) and go untreated due to lack of engagement, barriers to treatment, and judicial involvement. This study examined individuals suffering from co-occurring illnesses, analyzed their perceptions of interacting with the mental health care system, and attempted to understand why these individuals often sought services from the criminal justice system instead of the mental health care system that is meant to treat them. Results from this study will help future researchers and clinicians to understand perceptions and interpretations of individuals’ illnesses, to assess the laws pertaining to treatment for their illness, to propose possible systematic changes within the mental health care and criminal justice system that would advance the effectiveness of treatment for these troubled persons, and to help discover strategies to help bridge the gap between the mental health care and criminal justice system for individuals suffering from co-occurring illnesses.
0622: Clinical psychology