A pilot programme to facilitate the use of Mental Health Treatment Requirements: professional stakeholders’ experiences

01 Jun 2020
Norha Vera San Juan, Sian Oram

Mental Health Treatment Requirements (MHTRs) have been available in England and Wales since 2005 but are rarely used, despite high rates of mental health problems among offenders. In 2018, a new protocol to facilitate the use of MHTRs was piloted in five sites in England.  
Aims: To understand the experiences of professional stakeholders and identify barriers to use MHTRs.  
Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 38 professional stakeholders and thematic analysis applied.  
Interviewees were positive about the content and implementation of the new protocol. Interviewees described key benefits as increasing options in community sentencing, addressing a gap in service provision, and facilitating offenders’ access to other services. Challenges described, included multi-agency working, sustainability of funding, and the range and complexity of needs of offenders receiving MHTRs and the variation in their motivation to engage. Success factors described were having a strong steering group, staff dedicated to the project, and being able to provide a broad range of support to meet offender needs.  
The MHTR pilot protocol was generally well-received and appeared to address previous barriers to the use of MHTRs. Future work is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of MHTRs and the experience of offenders who receive them.