Featured Projects

Forensic Training for General Psychiatry Residents

Principal Investigators: Katherine Michaelsen, MD, MASc and Tobias Wasser, MD
Project Period: October 2021–October 2023
Funder: AAPL Institute for Education and Research

Dr. Katherine Michaelsen, CMHPL core faculty member, together with Dr. Tobias Wasser at Yale University, is working with members of the Residency Training in Forensic Committee in the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL) to develop peer-reviewed online training modules on core forensic topics for general psychiatry residents.  The new modules will address civil competence and informed consent, civil commitment and the right to refuse treatment, and suicide risk assessment.

The modules will be hosted on the AAPL website, though the previously-created modules, Confidentiality and Duties to Third Parties, are currently available on the Yale website. These modules are also included as part of a model curriculum through the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training.

Workforce Innovation and Leadership in Forensic Mental Health

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Piel, MD, JD
Project Period: July 2022–July 2023
Funder: Sozosei Foundation

The Center for Mental Health, Policy, and the Law (CMHPL), through an operations grant, is developing programming in Workforce Innovation and Leadership in Forensic Mental Health to address the forensic mental health workforce shortage.

The CMHPL anticipates the programming will have a direct impact on recruitment and retention of mental health professionals who work in forensic settings, as well as other public sector and psychiatric leadership roles. Through development of high-quality training, mentorship, consultation, and leadership development programming, the CMHPL is growing the number of clinicians with knowledge and aptitude to work with persons involved in the criminal justice system. In turn, this will engender high-quality patient services to improve access and care delivery to persons involved with the justice system and reduce the risk of prolonged or repeated cycles through the system.

Role of Criminal Defense Attorneys in Suicide Prevention Following Defendant Arrest

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Piel, MD, JD
Project Period: July 2022–June 2023
Funders: Mary. E Nelson Charitable Remainder Trust, Heidi Combs Trustee

This study will explore the role that criminal defense attorneys could play in reducing risk of suicide amongst recently arrested criminal defendants. Suicide is the leading cause of death in jails and the period after recent arrest may be a particularly vulnerable time for suicide. For many persons with recent arrest, their attorney is one of only a small number of persons that they encounter in the days following arrest. This proposal aims to better understand the experience of the criminal defense attorney in working with clients who have suicidal thinking or behavior; training they have received in the past; desired training (such as suicide risk identification, trauma-informed care, resources); and challenges in disclosures in light of their professional responsibility to preserve client confidences.

Update: Dr. Piel and Joellyn Sheehy, MD contributed an entry, Criminal defense attorneys and suicide prevention (pages 8–9), to the Winter 2023 edition of the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services Newsletter.