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Treatment of Mental Illness Lowers Arrest Rates, Saves Money

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Professor Sarah Desmarais

New research from NC State’s Department of Psychology shows that providing medication and counseling for psychiatric patients after they are released from hospital stays could significantly reduce the number of mentally ill inmates in jail.

Researchers followed 4,056 people for seven years after hospital treatment and found that those who received government-subsidized medications or outpatient mental health services as a follow up were much less likely to get into legal trouble than those who did not.

“We often say we need to put public safety first and the notion of helping the individual second,” said Sarah L. Desmarais, assistant professor of psychology at N.C. State University and co-author of a paper describing the research. “What we found was that when we provide treatment, we actually achieve both those goals. … Our research shows that people receiving medication were significantly less likely to be arrested. Outpatient services also resulted in a decreased likelihood of arrest.”

Read the full news release and coverage in the Raleigh News and Observer.