An Integrated Approach to Defending Those with Mental Health Conditions
When mental health professionals first begin working with a military population, they may quickly notice that the military justice system is uniquely challenged by servicemembers who have mental health problems. Unlike the civilian justice system, where those with serious mental health problems frequently cycle in and out of the criminal courts, such cases are relatively rare in the military system. Compared with the civilian population, the military population is relatively healthy: The military screens its incoming population, which tends to reduce the percentage of people who have very serious mental health problems. One outgrowth of this is that although mental health professionals in the civilian justice system gain experience dealing with the seriously mentally ill, those in the military justice system do not tend to have that depth of experience. People in the civilian system with milder forms of mental illness may never interact with the criminal justice system. Their illness may manifest in behaviors that are not criminal. For example, if they show up late to work (or not at all) because they have a hard time getting out of bed, they might lose their job-but they will not go to trial. If their illness manifests in behaviors that are criminal, such as using cocaine or marijuana to self-medicate, they may never be caught, and even if they are, law enforcement may not be interested in spending taxpayer money prosecuting their cases.
American Psychological Association
Mental Health, Military Justice System, psychologists
Law | Law and Psychology
Eric R. Carpenter, An Integrated Approach to Defending Those with Mental Health Conditions, in FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY IN MILITARY COURTS-MARTIAL (Christopher Stein & Jeffrey Younggren, eds., American Psychological Association, 2019).