Mental Health Awareness Toolkits for Police Officials
It is estimated that 15-25% of Pakistan’s population suffers from mental illness. In addition, the severe lack of mental health awareness and training (generally in Pakistan and specifically in the criminal justice system) means that many individuals never get diagnosed or treated, and hence are unjustly arrested, convicted, sentenced and punished. Without treatment, mental illness can linger and get worse. This in turn increases the chances of the same person reoffending and repeatedly being caught up in the criminal justice system.
All offenders in the criminal justice system are accorded some basic rights, and those suffering from mental illness are given additional protections. Moreover, in February 2021, in the case of Mst. Safia Bano vs Home Department, Government of The Punjab, The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued a landmark judgment, which provides broad guidelines for criminal justice stakeholders to manage offenders living with mental illness. The judgement banned capital punishment for prisoners with mental illness. It also directed Federal and Provincial authorities to set- up special forensic mental health facilities and start training and awareness programs on forensic mental health for medical personnel, social workers, police, prison staff, lawyers and judges.
This handbook seeks to guide police personnel on how to respond appropriately when dealing with an offender who may be suffering from a mental illness. It provides an overview of different mental illnesses, how to spot them, and what the police should do and not do if they are dealing with someone who may be suffering from mental illness.