Forensic Mental Health

Why forensic research matters.

Individuals with mental illness are generally not violent. 

In fact, they are 2.5 – 4 times more likely to be the victims of violence than the rest of the population. 

However, much stigma still exists around those individuals who struggle with mental illness and have faced charges or convictions for criminal offences. 

Furthermore, for those with mental illness who do exhibit offending behavior, we need to know more about effective methods to reduce one’s risk for future offending and prevent an individual from causing harm to one’s self and others. 

That is why dedicated research in the area of forensics mental health is critical. 

The term “forensic” is used to describe a situation where the legal and mental health systems interact. 

Forensics mental health research conducted at The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR) aims to inform and improve risk assessment and the re-integration of individuals into society through evidence-based rehabilitation and recovery strategies.

By expanding our understanding of the causes of offending by individuals with serious mental illness, researchers are uncovering important evidence that can lead to more effective treatments through forensic mental health services in prisons, hospitals, and community settings.  

“I work mainly with people who are found Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) – some of the most stigmatized individuals in the mental health landscape. What people don’t realize is that, often, the only big difference between these individuals and the rest of The Royal’s clientele is what happens if the police show up. If individuals are brought to the hospital during a manic or psychotic episode, for instance, they might be admitted to the schizophrenia program. But if they’re arrested and charged, they could end up as a forensic client.” - Dr. Michael Seto

What we do.

The IMHR’s Forensic Mental Health Research Unit leads research that helps to maintain the safety of the community, while improving outcomes and rehabilitating individuals with serious mental illness who have come in contact with the law. 

Research conducted within this unit is helping to inform better assessment and treatment strategies that will help patients recover more effectively, and reduce violence. 

At The Royal, forensic mental health research and care are closely aligned. The Research Unit works closely with the Integrated Forensic Program (IFP), which provides specialized clinical services in assessment, treatment, rehabilitation and community reintegration of individuals who may be unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible on account of disorder according to the courts.

Research Focus:

  • Emotional dysregulation and violence across the lifespan
  • Forensic mental health services delivery
  • Risk assessment and the role of mental disorders in the prediction of future violence
  • Paraphilias and sexual offending  
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