Forensic Mental Health: An Introduction

Forensic mental health refers to the intersection where mental health and the law merge. In particular, forensic mental health refers to the presentation and debate of arguments specific to the importance and relevance of facts, interpretations, assessments, and opinions that a) concern issues related to psychiatric well-being and human behavior in the social environment, and b) pertain to legal, chiefly criminal, matters. Beyond the presentation and debate of arguments on forensic issues, forensic mental health also refers to service, as well as services. These services include assessment, care, case coordination, and at times even advocacy. And, lastly, forensic mental health refers to the expansive network of systems in which recipients with legal and criminal entanglements are served. This may include, but certainly isn’t limited to, law enforcement, judicial, correctional, mental health, substance abuse, and even the social services systems.

The arguments made and services provided in forensic mental health largely depend upon the following:

  • The legal or clinical question being asked–the nature of the referral

  • The expertise and discipline of the forensic practitioner or consultant

  • The setting in which the legal or clinical question applies

  • The nature and severity of the respondent’s conduct and presentation

  • The possible or likely consequences to the respondent for her/his conduct

  • The interests of justice

  • The balance between the interests of the respondent and public safety

What Is Forensic InService?

In-service refers to informal training. In-service training was once customary and routine on every psychiatric hospital ward. It was a general expectation that all professional staff would attend and contribute to the on-going educational growth of the professional and paraprofessional staff. As such, they were also forums of community service–a place to give back. In-service trainings were forums where professionals practicing in the field could share their expertise, interests, and experiences. The informal nature of these trainings allowed for diversity and often led to professional expression and exploration. Today, the informal in-service has given way to conferences, paid trainings, and the demand for CEU credits. We believe the need for community and the sharing of expertise, interests, and experiences is as relevant and important as it ever was. Forensic InService is about providing a forum in which this tradition will be preserved.

Our Community?

We have a long history of working collaboratively with probation and parole departments, prosecutors and defense attorneys, as well as mental health professionals. We hope to continue that working relationship through this project.

We are presently in the process of developing our services, podcast, and newsletter, and hope to be fully operational in the very near future. Please feel free to check back with us at, and while we would like you to become a future subscriber, all are welcome to visit our site.

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Forensic InService podcasts are created by Stephen Koonz & Stephen Price