Interaction Between Law and Mental Health

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Interaction Between Law and Mental Health

Mental health and the law interact in a variety of ways, where the two continually inform and transform each other (Gopalakrishnan, 2016). To begin with, clinicians significantly impact the criminal justice system. Usually, clinicians serving in jails play a crucial role during initial bookings, where they screen and assess individuals to assist in identifying any mental health concerns. Consequently, this early assessment helps connect people to care while in jail. It also helps in determining the possibility of jail diversion. Clinicians may also offer crucial behavioral health information for an individual to the court to help inform treatment and legal decisions. Furthermore, clinicians offer evidence-based interventions through group or individual treatment while the person is in jail in order to assist them in getting ready for re-entry. Lastly, clinicians who serve in the court system provide the court with updates regarding an individual’s progress and challenges and help develop a plan to assist a person meet treatment and legal requirements to resolve their case (Kelly & Chambers, 2022).

The legislative and judicial systems influence mental health care by providing standards and a framework for protecting and promoting the rights of individuals with mental health issues. Usually, the legislative and judicial systems usually promote integrated, community-based care and support to improve the quality of services rendered to people with mental illness (Funk, & Drew, 2015). The systems also seek to prevent discrimination in insurance coverage by requiring equal coverage for mental health treatment and treatment for other illnesses. Furthermore, the legislative and judicial systems also promote confidentiality and ensure informed consent and engagement of mental health patients and their family members in the patient’s treatment plan, thus improving the quality of care rendered.

Other ways through which clinical and legal fields interact include applying clinical psychology in the forensic field. Here a forensic psychologist interacts with the defendant, assesses their mental status, and testifies before the court on the mental status of a defendant in a criminal case. The forensic psychologist also reformulates psychological findings into the courtroom’s legal language and provides information to the legal professionals in a manner that can be easily understood (Iudici et al., 2015). Also, the legislative system ensures that safe, equal, and quality healthcare services are rendered to mental health patients.


Funk, M. K., & Drew, N. J. (2015). Mental health policy and strategic plan. EMHJ-Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 21(7), 522-526.

Gopalakrishnan, G. (2016). Mental health and law-contemporary issues. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 58(Suppl 2), S166., A., Salvini, A., Faccio, E., & Castelnuovo, G. (2015). The clinical assessment in the legal field: An empirical study of bias and limitations in forensic expertise. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1831.

Kelly, E., & Chambers, A. (2022). Embedding Clinicians in the Criminal Justice System – CSG Justice Center. Retrieved 17 August 2022, from

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