Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Being under community supervision takes a toll on individuals, as many need more assistance in creating a stable and supporting lifestyle once released. In the previous blog, we talked about how the use of cognitive behavioral therapy is making positive differences in lives. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), focuses on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. CBT is used to uncover unhealthy patterns of thought and how they may be causing self-destructive behaviors and beliefs. By addressing these issues, constructive ways of thinking can be developed to produce healthier behaviors and attitudes on life and goals. 

CBT allows for the ability to get to the root of a problem and identify why one might behave or act the way they do. Our behavioral health specialist, Lacey Berumen PhD, MNM, LAC, MAC, ADS, has over 20 years of behavioral health experience. She has provided an example of one of countless scenarios where CBT can be deployed to benefit supervisors helping their clients and their clients themselves: 

CBT can be used with clients simply by asking them to think through the situation to the end and decide whether this will be a positive outcome or if this will have negative connotations. For instance, Joe arrives to his office late and frustrated as the bus schedule at his nearby stop has changed. This situation has resulted in his boss being mad at him. Joe is told to think through the situation and how he is feeling by asking some questions. Is it reasonable that a boss would be upset if an employee was late to work? If so, how might Joe turn this into a positive outcome? Upon finding out the bus schedule has changed, Joe could call the employer and let him know he will be late. Joe could look at other bus schedules that will get him to work another way and on time. Joe may be new to riding the bus so he may need assistance from his supervisor to solve this dilemma.

TRACKtech has extensive capabilities that allow for an individual to access necessary, helpful, and local resources. If Joe was using a TRACKphone, he could have the regional bus website or app quickly available to him. TRACKphone allows the client to have access to useful resources and programs to overcome situations and reach out for help to their supervisors. TRACKcase allows supervisors to have easier contact with clients and provides the ability to check in with them, helping solve crisis through video conferencing, messaging and deploying the use of CBT. This can help alleviate and solve stressful situations that impact clients lives. TRACKtech solutions offer comprehensive rehabilitation and compliance monitoring capabilities to enhance communication, monitor risks and provide an approach to enhance recovery and support reentry requirements. Getting to the root of the problem and keeping people on track is possible with the right tools, including the use of CBT.


Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Many individuals struggle with mental health issues, whether they are minor or major. During times like COVID-19, many struggle even more so than usual as they are isolated in their homes and from family and friends. As a probation and parole officer, staying in touch with clients and providing resources for them to overcome these obstacles can prove to be challenging, while helping to maintain stable mental health.

One approach that has seen positive change is cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), focuses on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. CBT is used to uncover unhealthy patterns of thought and how they may be causing self-destructive behaviors and beliefs. By addressing these issues, constructive ways of thinking can be developed to produce healthier behaviors and attitudes on life and goals. The American Psychological Association highlights that CBT is based on core principles of psychological problems involving faulty or unhelpful ways of thinking, learned patterns or unhelpful behavior, and those suffering to learn better ways of coping with them, relieving their symptoms and becoming more effective in their lives. 

There are a variety of CBT treatments that involve different strategies. One is learning to recognize one’s distortions in thinking, which is creating problems, and then to reevaluate them to change these distortions. Others are gaining a better understanding of the behavior and motivation of others, using problem-solving skills to cope with difficult situations and learning to develop a greater sense of confidence in one’s own abilities. CBT is about changing behavioral patterns and helping your client recognize them and the factors that drive their criminogenic needs. 

More therapists and supervisors are supporting that cognitive behavioral therapy is proving to make a difference in the lives of those being supervised by helping establish what factors might be behind their need to commit crimes. Studies of CBT have shown it to be an effective treatment for a wide variety of mental illnesses and to keep individuals on their path to rehabilitation into society. 

TRACKtech has created and developed an evidence-based, data-driven, mobile platform that offers comprehensive rehabilitation and compliance monitoring capabilities. Our solution enhances communication, monitors risks and provides an approach to enhance recovery and support reentry requirements within the criminal justice industry. Behavioral health assessments and resources are available for those being supervised through TRACKphone and TRACKphoneLite. They allow supervisors to be in contact with clients through check ins and video conferencing to establish a connection and support system. With the assessment results, CBT can be deployed through video conferencing to help the client with life problems and help get to the root cause of their criminogenic needs.


Public Safety

Many individuals struggle with their mental health and creating a stable lifestyle. Homelessness is one of the severe issues that needs fixing in the world. Mercy Housing published an article with 7 startling facts about homelessness in the United States.

First off, the homeless population in the United States could fill five football stadiums, as it was determined that 567,715 people were homeless on any given night in January of 2019, but this number still does not fully capture the state of homelessness in our country.

One in every 30 children, 2.5 million children per year, experience homelessness, which is roughly the entire population of Chicago.

Because children experience homelessness at such an early age, many have brain development setbacks that hinder their learning, handling of emotions, relationships, etc. and at least 40% of homeless school-age children have a mental health problem.

There are nearly 37,085 homeless veterans in the United States and more than half of them have a mental and/or physical disability. After fighting for our country, veterans are more likely than non-veterans to experience homelessness, mental health problems and substance abuse, as many struggle with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

On a single night in 2019, homeless services providers had more than 48,000 beds set aside for survivors of domestic violence. Survivors of domestic violence and abuse gather the courage to leave their situations even when they have nothing, increasing their risk of homelessness and lack of resources.

Being homeless decreases an individual’s life span by 20-30 years, as the average life expectancy of a homeless individual is 50 years old.

Finally, homelessness is a risk factor for anyone, as many live paycheck to paycheck and unexpected events turn people’s lives around for the worse.

Homelessness is a problem that will not go away on its own. People continue to provide support and resources for those in the community to fight this widespread problem but cannot do it alone. If you have the resources or time to volunteer or donate items, that little bit can go a long way for someone in need.


Justice Reform

The Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice published a statement highlighting the need for justice in youth prisons. The United States criminal justice system like many other systems has flaws. The U.S. has long been the global leader in youth incarceration, as it locks young people up at a higher rate than any other nation. This effects not only the youth, but also their families and social ties by creating trauma and burdens on all. Youth incarceration is overused, as well as ineffective and inefficient when it comes to changing their behavior and positively influencing them.

More cities are realizing that in order to keep youth off the streets and out of jail, they need to have access to community programs and rehabilitative resources. Adolescents are still growing and developing when they are convicted of crimes and sitting in jail does not help them develop or learn from their mistakes. Punitive measures are becoming less and less conducive to changing the behavior of individuals, especially youth. Proper intervention for youth at risk of committing crimes is beneficial for the individual and public safety.

Racism also plays a heavy role in youth incarceration. With justice reform being a prominent topic right now, racism must also be addressed in youth prison systems. By dismantling youth prison systems, it protects children from physical and mental abuse, addresses the problem of racism, and provides alternatives to programs that will help steer adolescents in the right direction.

The joint statement by Fair and Just Prosecution and Youth Correctional Leaders for Justice on Youth Prisons highlights all of these issues and how improving youth corrections will improve public safety, reduce recidivism and keep children from falling into the revolving door of the criminal justice system. There needs to be positive and supportive change in their lives for them to realize the potential they have. Rehabilitation is the new ‘punishment’, in the hopes of helping adolescents stay out of prison and creating second chances for them.


Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Mental health and well-being are important for all individuals to remember. Taking care of yourself is the first step when it comes to taking care of others. You will only get so far in helping others without having the right mindset for yourself.

In the criminal justice field especially, remembering to look after yourself is a top priority so that you are able to help your clients. Being a community corrections officer proves difficult due to the number of caseloads and individuals they are responsible for, as well as the high-pressure workspace they work in. You are responsible for keeping individuals in compliance and the public safe, which can bring about a lot of stress and fatigue. Your well-being can be put on hold while working a difficult job, but it should never be suppressed.

Some recommendations for taking care of yourself are as follows from SAMHSA:

  • Be physically active
  • Sleep and eat well
  • Avoid increasing alcohol and drug use
  • Stay in contact with loved ones
  • Turn to colleagues for support
  • Meditate
  • Try breathing exercises
  • Seek sources of humor
  • Journaling or drawing
  • Participate in spiritual practices

There are many more tips that SAMHSA recommends that can be found in the article above.

Work burnout is more prevalent than ever, as technology brings many benefits but also drawbacks as people always have to be available, even at home. Distinction between home and work life balance are becoming blurred, especially during COVID-19. Read more about work burnout and understanding how to balance this issue between work and life. It is important to support and take time for yourself. Well-being of individuals in the criminal justice field is especially key because if they do not take care of themselves, then they cannot take care of and help others.


Justice Reform

With criminal justice reform, comes discussions on focusing towards better serving children and teens on the autism spectrum who have become entangled in the juvenile justice system. Washington State University posted an article about how youth on the spectrum need more access to mental health support and programs. This would allow for them to have counseling and supporters that can advocate for their needs in the system.

A juvenile probation counselor in Washington’s Cowlitz County thinks more training is necessary for police and corrections officers to help them recognize signs of autism, as many do not realize the wide variety of signs that people can exhibit. According to the CDC data from 2016, 1 in 54 children in the United States have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls, making this a very real and relevant circumstance that officers or court officials will come into contact with a child suffering from autism.

With this comes the approach of transitioning from a punitive system to a more rehabilitative one to help youth and reduce recidivism. Effort must be put into creating more resources and support for children suffering from autism that are intertwined with the law. By taking a more rehabilitative approach, the juvenile justice system can improve recidivism rates and keep children out of prison. Individuals need to be more cognizant and supportive that children who suffer from autism do not necessarily realize right from wrong. Even though they may require more mental health support, they are children who wish to have a normal life and are as teachable as other children not suffering from autism.


Public Safety
An article posted by Corridor News addresses issues surrounding homelessness and recidivism rates in the Austin community. “The Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC) has facilitated dramatic reductions in repeat offenses among individuals experiencing homelessness and other vulnerable populations”. The Court is aiming to help reduce these issues by showing compassion and care to individuals, by using a rehabilitative approach instead of incarceration or admitting them to hospitals. This leads to the improvement of the individuals lives and reduces strain on public systems, including jails and health care programs.

The DACC has already seen dramatic reductions according to a recent study. “The analysis of citations issued to a group of 59 individuals experiencing homelessness both before and after their engagement with DACC’s Intensive Case Management program reveals that the number of citations plummeted by 99% from 1,556 before participating in DACC services to just 7 afterward”. The mission of the DACC is to continue to serve individuals experiencing homelessness with person to person contact and a comprehensive approach. They want to create safe and respectful environments for people and to provide them with the help they need.

The DACC program is also working with the Intensive Case Management (ICM) to stop the issuing of fines that lead to arrests or threats of jail time. Instead ICM provides access to support systems and programs for substance abuse, mental health care, peer support, basic needs, and permanent and transitional housing. The case management team is currently working with 122 people to combat homelessness and provide a second chance for them. As the program grows, they are expecting to help more people get back on their feet by providing necessary and basic services to combat homelessness and recidivism.

Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Michigan State University elaborates in an article on how the national Stepping Up Initiative is helping to reduce the number of people in jails that are suffering from mental illnesses. The Stepping Up Initiative is led by the Council of State Governments, the National Association of Counties and the American Psychiatric Foundation. It was created to help counties redirect individuals with mental illnesses to treatment centers to receive the care they need and reduce jail populations. Currently, more than 500 counties in 43 states are part of the initiative. It is working to keep individuals with mental illnesses out of the justice system and provide them with the help they need.

A professor and her colleague at Michigan State University have been awarded a grant to study how the Stepping Up Initiative works and to determine what techniques can be used for treatment for individuals who suffer from mental illnesses. “Our primary goal is to learn more about how county agencies can work together to reduce the number of mentally ill people in county jails,” said Jennifer Johnson, a C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health at MSU College of Human Medicine.

Around two-thirds of jail populations have mental health problems and around three-quarters of them also suffer from substance abuse addictions. However, most jails are not equipped with the proper programs or treatment plans to treat those suffering from mental illnesses, as many of these individuals should not be in jail but rather mental health facilities. These individuals find themselves in jail after going off of their medication and acting erratically, leading to arrest. It creates a cycle of individuals being brought in while suffering from mental health issues, being put back on the street and then acting up or committing a crime, landing them back in jail again. This is where Stepping Up comes into play by helping jails find the right fit and facility for those suffering or in need of a mental health facility. This ultimately reduces overcrowding in jails and places people in correct facilities, where they can be treated in the hopes of helping keep them out of jail.


Jail Overcrowding
The end of June marked a four-year project completion for Chatham County Officials as the Gateway Crisis Center for those suffering from mental health issues opened. Fox 28 Media published an article about the opening of the new facility, which includes a 24-hour walk-in facility for people in crisis, says Gateway Community Service Board CEO Mark Johnson. Guests may come voluntarily or can be transported by police or EMS. Once registered, they will receive clean clothing, meals and other amenities to comfort them and help them fight their mental health battles.
Opening this new facility will help reduce overcrowding in jails and prisons, as people struggling with mental illnesses will be brought to the facility instead of jail or prison. When individuals are brought to jail, they lose their benefits after a certain amount of time. “It often takes 60 to 90 days to reinstate your benefits, so they recidivate, and they end up back in jail,” Stone says. Many take drugs and are arrested and do not receive the mental health care they need, as they are stuck in jail. Sheriff Wilcher says they currently have over 300 people in jail that are on psychotropic drugs. He has been supporting the opening of the Gateway Crisis Center as it will reduce recidivism and provide the right services people need who are struggling with substance addiction and mental health problems. This will keep the community safer as people will have access to a facility that will help them and provide what they need to overcome addiction and help battle mental health problems they face.

Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

The coronavirus crisis has already taken a toll on an individual’s mental health and addictions. While being self-quarantined, we encourage you to stick to your recovery plan with the help of online resources, including the following.

Recovery Dharma Online organizes daily meetings accessible via computer, smartphone, or dial-in. Together we meditate, study Buddhist teachings, and support each other on our paths to sobriety and peace.

Your guide to alcoholism drug addictions help and information. is a community of over 168,000 recovering alcoholics, recovering addicts, recovering co-dependents and their friends, family and loved ones.

In The Rooms hosts over 130 live video meetings every week for AA, NA, SAA, CPA, ACA and CODA.

ANXIETY – 7 science-based strategies to cope with coronavirus anxiety.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – Create a safety plan.

John Hopkins University has a COVID-19 Resource Center to help answer all your coronavirus questions.

What is Social Distancing and How Can it Slow the Spread of COVID-19

The Best Ways to Protect Yourself