An estimated 44% of people in jail and 37% of those in prison have a mental health condition. When I worked at the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health, the Sheriff and Probation Departments were close partners with us. My Research & Evaluation team worked with their data teams to evaluate the impacts of a range of behavioral health services on law enforcement encounters and criminal justice recidivism. Doing that work within a single County was hard enough. A statewide story of criminal justice outcomes from mental health services was a dream. Yet our communities kept asking for it.
California’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) has done just that. With their statewide oversight authority, they were able to use SAS to bring together statewide mental health services data and Department of Justice data on arrests. We now have statewide evidence that our investment in intensive mental health services indeed improves criminal justice outcomes.
This is a beautiful example of doing whole person analytics, breaking down silos to find the outcomes beyond healthcare. Bringing together and matching identities across datasets to accurately assess outcomes is no small feat, especially when you have such different data as behavioral health and criminal justice data. Yet modern technology can not only give us a more holistic picture of needs and outcomes, but it can also help us integrate data while protecting privacy, a vital component of this work.
Dr. Dawnté Early, MHSOAC’s Chief of Research, and I will be discussing this work and their future efforts in a mainstage presentation at this month’s SAS Global Forum. It’s virtual and completely free to register. I’ll also be interviewing Dr. Early and Dr. Marleen Radigan of New York’s Office of Mental Health in a breakout panel discussion. We’ll have a live Q&A after our session as well, which is a great opportunity to engage live with these experts.
In the meantime, check out our new story about MHSOAC’s work and get ready to hear more about how we can use Data for Good to improve mental health across the world. It’s a great way to honor May’s Mental Health Awareness Month as well!