Office of Forensic Mental Health Services


The Office of Forensic Mental Health Services is a division of the Department of Social and Health Services’ Behavioral Health Administration that oversees the state’s adult forensic mental health system.

OFMHS strives to transform forensic mental health throughout Washington state by partnering with communities and law enforcement in areas such as mental health resources in jails, competency restoration, diversion programs, and community resources to better support people living with mental illnesses who come into contact with the criminal court system.

The programs provide forensic services, defined broadly as the intersection of law and psychology. These services include competency evaluations, care and treatment for competency restoration, forensic navigator services, jail technical assistance, workforce development, and more.


Trueblood v. DSHS

Much of the office’s efforts are aimed at coming into substantial compliance with orders in the Trueblood v. DSHS lawsuit, which focuses on ensuring jail-based competency evaluations and inpatient competency services occur in a timely manner. This includes the work of forensic evaluators, who evaluate Trueblood class members in jails, inpatient facilities, and the community, and report to the court on their findings.


Workforce development

OFMHS provides forensic workforce development and jail technical assistance programs. The forensic workforce development program supports efforts related to the recruitment and retention of mental health professionals who provide an array of services in communities throughout Washington. The work of this team includes promoting an awareness of careers in behavioral health and supporting diverse efforts to support the existing workforce. The jail technical assistance program provides information and assistance to jails and others working within the criminal court system through its monthly webinar series and varied outreach efforts. The team also provides guidance to Washington jails regarding best practices for behavioral health services in jail settings through the program’s guidebook. This publication assists jail staff in areas such as treatment planning, suicide prevention, and crisis de-escalation.


Forensic Evaluators

Forensic evaluators deliver opinions to the courts regarding the mental state and psychological functioning of defendants facing charges. Forensic evaluators employed by the Department of Social and Health Services’ Office of Forensic Mental Health Services are doctoral-level psychologists with additional training and expertise in the specialized field of the application of psychological principles to the courtroom. These units assist in the delivery of services that help ensure that the rights afforded to defendants by our Constitution are maintained and the safety of the public is recognized.


Forensic navigators

As a result of a Trueblood settlement of contempt agreement, a new position in Washington was created. Forensic navigators began working with clients on July 1, 2020. These navigators have two main functions: 1) help divert forensically involved clients out of jails and inpatient treatment settings and into community-based treatment settings, and 2) provide a variety of roles and functions to those who are ordered into outpatient competency restoration such as referring them to programs like Forensic HARPS and Forensic Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness, and other community and local diversion and assistance programs.

With the passage of Substitute Senate Bill 5440 in 2022, the Forensic Navigator Program created a new position called Diversion Navigators. Diversion Navigators work to identify incarcerated people who may be eligible to receive specialized services to divert them from the competency process and assist in breaking the cycle of criminal re-offense by offering wraparound services.


SORE Jail Pilot Program 

The SCORE Clinical Intervention Specialist Pilot Program was created after the passage of SSB 5440 in 2023 and uses the services of DSHS clinical intervention specialists and clinicians working with SCORE’s contracted medical and behavioral health staff to assess and offer additional treatment options. Those options vary include motivational interviewing to help with medication compliance, group and individualized therapy, and specialized programming to help stabilize this incarcerated population.

These services are offered to Trueblood class members; those charged with a crime, awaiting competency services, and who are currently incarcerated. Clinical intervention specialists help ensure time spent in jail contributes to the process of recovery. They provide technical assistance and preserve medication access, so class members don’t destabilize outside of treatment.


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