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Posted on Nov 30 2020 by Jo Lehmann

Offending and Mental Health - On the Ward' goes 'Off the Ward' 

In this special edition of our award-winning podcast, we go Off the Ward, and speak to those working and accessing mental health treatment in the criminal justice system.

Being on probation, put simply, is when it is agreed that you can live in the community, provided you adhere to certain conditions. Such conditions might involve community service or a curfew. 

During the episode we hear from Mick, who is on probation, and explains how he’s battled with drug and alcohol addiction for most of his life, getting hooked on Crystal Meth and GHB, which led him to dealing.

“The insanity of addiction is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, and the addict will keep doing it again, and again and again,” he tells our presenter, John-Barry Waldron.

“The alcohol and drugs were a medicine for my mental health issues,” Mick explains, adding that they helped masked the “low opinion” he had of himself.

Mick has now received CBT through St Andrew’s Community Partnerships Team, and is now on the road to recovery.

In the episode we also speak to Ellie Burch, one of St Andrew’s forensic psychologists who works with offenders in the community like Mick. She explains how significant the links between mental health and offending are, but yet many people who are on probation and living with a debilitating mental health problem haven’t ever been treated for their mental health.

John also explores whether mental health support can actually reduce crime, as well as looking at the stigma which people on probation may face.

Listen to the episode here.