Less than 1 in 10 of people deemed not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder (NCR) commit or attempt homicides or sexual offences according to the National Trajectory Project (the largest known study in Canada). Forensic experts from Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia analyzed 1800 NCR cases between May 2000 and April 2005, including a three-year follow-up review. They found low recidivism rates and a diverse history of clinical diagnoses and offences for the NCR population studied. Detailed findings are now available in six articles published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.
What Is The Issue?
The impact of the law on the lives of people with mental health problems and mental illness is complex. It can affect human rights, employment opportunities, experiences within the justice system, housing, and even access to healthcare services. Such effects can be additional barriers to a person’s wellbeing or opportunity for recovery.
What Are We Doing?
Upholding the rights of those living with mental health problems and mental illness is among the priorities included in the MHCC’s Mental Health Strategy for Canada. So is reducing the over-representation of people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system. The MHCC is working on many fronts to help ensure fair treatment, combat stigma, support knowledge exchange, and uphold rights.
What We've Learned
It is crucial to understand and improve the ways interactions with the legal and justice systems impact people with mental health problems and mental illness. The MHCC will continue to support research in this area, and actively encourage others to apply that research in making policy decisions, training frontline personnel, and shaping approaches for interactions.