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 was created in 2015 to oversee the state’s adult forensic mental health system. It has nine regional offices and three residential treatment facilities.

As part of DSHS’ Behavioral Health Administration, the 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, diversion work, and more.

Workforce development

OFMHS provides forensic workforce development and jail technical assistance programs. The mission of the forensic workforce development team

is to help develop sufficient availability of mental health professionals to provide an array of services in Washington’s communities, inpatient facilities, and law enforcement or correctional settings, including jails and prisons. The jail technical assistance program provides training and guidance manuals focused on best practices to assist jail staff in areas such as treatment planning, suicide prevention, and crisis de-escalation. These trainings may also have relevance for others working within the criminal court system. The jail technical assistance team will work to ensure that these other partners are aware of and have access to such trainings.

 

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 who are in jails, inpatient facilities, and the community, and report to the court on their findings.

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.

 

Best Practices for Behavioral Health Services in Jail Settings Telehealth Implementation Guidebook Washington Forensic Competency Evaluation Report Guidelines
image of two people sitting Health Guidebook forensic guide competency