Treatment, not imprisonment
For decades, it has been a trend in the making: the misplaced reliance on our prisons to function as warehouses for the nation’s mentally ill. Since the initial push toward deinstitutionalization—which began in the ‘50s and gained momentum through the years—thousands upon thousands of mentally ill individuals have been spared the experience of hospitalization only to land on a one-way road to incarceration without adequate treatment.
This issue of INSIGHT Magazine takes an in-depth look into the resulting toll this trend has taken on our prisons, our profession, and our society. Most profoundly affected are the myriad inmates who, but for the lack of early intervention and adequate treatment, could have avoided the downward spirals their lives have taken. These are among the people who stand to benefit most from a strong system of mental health care that focuses on early diagnosis and treatment that is integrated into individual health care programs and the nationwide system of public health.
At The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, we are committed to preparing world-class psychology and behavioral health professionals to meet a wide range of challenges, including those that involve the justice system. With a new 10-year reaffirmation of our regional accreditation under our belt, we have positioned ourselves as a university of significance, particularly in the vital fields of psychology and related behavioral health sciences.
Our Forensic Psychology programs and training centers address issues of child protection, juvenile justice, incarceration, and subsequent re-entry into society. Our students and faculty work closely with agencies and organizations that serve populations whose backgrounds and behaviors put them at risk for arrest and imprisonment. By working with teachers, law enforcement officers, and other professionals, our faculty and students help providers recognize the signs of mental illness while also identifying resources for treatment options. Our programs and outreach are ever-expanding as we respond to the growing needs in the communities we serve. As a result, our impact and relevance continue to grow as well.
Diversity is a focus of all of our programs, including those that train clinical psychologists, mental health counselors, school psychologists, and marriage and family therapists. We are well aware that minority populations are among the most underserved segments of society. Therefore, they are the least equipped to overcome the challenges of mental illness, and most likely to find themselves homeless, impoverished, or incarcerated. Our graduates are prepared with a level of cultural competence that enables them to recognize and address cultural differences, and to use the skills they have developed to help the people they serve throughout their careers to lead healthy, well-balanced lives.
I hope you will find the features in this issue of INSIGHT to be informative and thought-provoking. At The Chicago School, we believe that by illuminating some of the darkened corners of human existence, we can truly improve the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.
Michele Nealon, Psy.D.
Read articles from the Fall 2017 issue of INSIGHT:
Dr. Michele Nealon
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