Mental health and the criminal justice system discussed in latest Heads Up Dartmouth Health webinar

Chief David Goldstein; Samantha Morin, MD; Joseph Lascaze; Audra Burns

Dartmouth Health has published the latest webinar in its series, Heads Up: A Year-Long Mental Health Awareness Journey. This month, expert panelists discuss the topic “Mental health and the criminal justice system.” The video can be viewed on the Dartmouth Health YouTube page.

This segment features Samantha Morin, PhD, Dartmouth Health Lead Child Forensic Psychologist, Director of Clinical Services at Sununu Youth Services Center in Manchester, New Hampshire; David Goldstein, PhD, behavioral scientist and Chief of Police for the City of Franklin; and Joseph Lascaze, criminal justice reform advocate and Smart Justice Campaign Manager for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire. Together, they discuss the myriad ways trauma and mental health issues contribute to criminal behavior, the mental toll police work takes on a person and a growing awareness in law enforcement circles on mental health and resources to seek help.

Morin says a lot of criminal behavior stems from trauma from childhood abuse and neglect, which is a major contributor to the juveniles incarcerated at the Sununu Youth Services Center.

“I think one thing that’s important to point out is that many of the youth coming to us having already been involved in Child Protection or a Child in Need of Service petition or have gone through multiple placements before having come to us, on average about five or six, and have a lot of trauma in their history,” said Morin. “So, we have a lot of abuse, a lot of neglect, a lot of trauma reactivity that contributes to maybe some of the behaviors that led them to be placed with us.”

The panel also explores how the traditional criminal justice system has resulted in the warehousing of the mentally ill and the use of prisons and jails as de facto treatment centers, recent reforms in juvenile justice and other ways to prioritize treatment over incarceration.

In partnership with the New Hampshire Union Leader and the Seacoast Media Group, the Heads Up series is a mental health awareness campaign that provides online resources, offers fresh perspectives and highlights community events on mental health-related topics.

To learn more about the Heads Up Series, resources on mental health, or to view past newspaper feature articles and webinars, visit our Mental Health web page.

About Dartmouth Health

Dartmouth Health, New Hampshire's only academic health system and the state's largest private employer, serves patients across northern New England. Dartmouth Health provides access to more than 2,000 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH, as well as across its wide network of hospitals, clinics and care facilities. DHMC is consistently named the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in numerous clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth Health includes Dartmouth Cancer Center, one of only 56 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation, and the only such center in northern New England; Dartmouth Health Children’s, which includes Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, the state’s only children’s hospital, and multiple clinic locations around the region; member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene and New London, NH, and Bennington and Windsor, VT; Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and more than 24 clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. Through its historical partnership with Dartmouth and the Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth Health trains nearly 400 medical residents and fellows annually, and performs cutting-edge research and clinical trials recognized across the globe with Geisel and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT. Dartmouth Health and its more than 13,000 employees are deeply committed to serving the healthcare needs of everyone in our communities, and to providing each of our patients with exceptional, personal care.