April 12, 2016 - Following on the heels of a successful first year at the Toronto South Detention Centre, CAMH’s Forensic Early Intervention Service (FEIS) is expanding to the Vanier Centre for Women in Milton, a medium and maximum correctional facility for female offenders.
“The fact that the FEIS model can now be duplicated in other facilities speaks volumes about its success”, says Brad Tamcsu, Deputy Superintendent at Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC).
FEIS supports inmates whose mental illness may put them at risk of being unfit to stand trial or who may choose to pursue a defence of not criminally responsible.
The program is a collaboration between CAMH, the Ministries of Community Safety and Correctional Services and Health and Long-Term Care. All three organizations came together at CAMH on April 6 to mark the one year anniversary of the program which became operational at TSDC January, 2015.
Over the past year, FEIS has received over 1,200 referrals and successfully provided mental health screening, triage, and interventions to 712 of these clients.
”Those numbers are well beyond our expectations,” says Jim McNamee, Executive Director of CAMH’s Complex Mental Illness Program. “Those numbers highlight the need in the corrections system.”
(L to R), Jim McNamee, Executive Director, CMI, Brad Tamcsu, TSDC Deputy Superintendent, Tanya Connors FEIS Manager, and Dr. Kiran Patel, Forensic Psychiatrist, CMI
FEIS Manager Tanya Connors says “providing support to more than 700 clients is an amazing accomplishment. The majority of those clients have responded positively to FEIS.”
Correctional services staff have commented that “difficult to serve” clients are engaging well with FEIS, noting an improvement in clients’ overall mood, including mental status and ability to manage their behaviours and engage with others. Many clients who were initially placed in segregation have been triaged to less restrictive units as a result of improvement in their mental health.
Dr. Kiran Patel, a Forensic Psychiatrist with CAMH’s Complex Mental Illness Program, credits the success of the FEIS to the interdisciplinary team from psychiatry, psychology, nursing, social work and occupational therapy “who work in innovative ways to help a vulnerable, stigmatized and disenfranchised population.”
“We act flexibly in every effort to support these clients, enhancing the possibility of success once they are back in the community.”
With an estimated 44 per cent of inmates in Ontario self-reporting a mental health or addiction issue, Jim McNamee hopes that FEIS, “the only program of its kind in Ontario…will be a blue print for future programs.”
“It’s clear that by reaching people where they are… the CAMH FEIS program is making a difference.”