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Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health has today announced an initiative that will provide fully funded forensic practice and clinical leadership training for staff working with forensic mental health clients.

Forensic mental health services (FMHS) provide assessment and treatment to people whose mental health needs intersect with offending behaviours (alleged, proven or when they are assessed at being at risk for offending).

‘These are people who are amongst some of our most disadvantaged groups accessing mental health services and often come to the health system via the prison services,’ says Robyn Shearer, Deputy Director-General Mental Health and Addiction.

‘The Ministry has extended this initiative to staff in Ara Poutama, Department of Corrections to ensure a more collaborative approach when supporting forensic clients both in prison and in the mental health services.

‘We’re making this one-year Postgraduate Certificate in Specialty Care (endorsed in Forensic Practice) through Whitireia New Zealand available to 30 people from a range of health care professions. This includes nurses, psychologists and allied workforces as well as Ara Poutama staff.

‘We know the forensic mental health and Ara Poutama workforces are focused on delivering a high standard of care to their clients with severe mental illness.

‘We’re also aware that sometimes staff working in these services have been recruited into roles without specific forensic mental health experience or training, which can impact on staff and patient safety.

‘They have been asking for support and professional development to improve this, and providing this fully funded training package is one of the ways we can do that.’