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Behavioral Health


NDCS Behavioral Health emphasizes treatment services for high risk, high need populations.  The primary focus of Behavioral Health is to provide services to inmates with major mental illness.  Other priority populations include violent offenders, sex offenders, and those with substance use disorders.  Clinical review teams make specific recommendations for treatment interventions for these core groups.


Mental Health Services

Mental Health offers a wide range of services and programs to address the mental health needs of high risk offenders with an emphasis on those with major mental illness.  The services include assessment and evaluation, residential and outpatient treatment programs, and crisis intervention.


Residential Programs

The Mental Health Unit (MHU) provides residential treatment services to inmates with major mental illness or severe social/developmental impairment.  Program goals include learning about and coping with major mental illness or social deficits and improving coping skills with the goal of transitioning to general population.  The length of this program varies depending on needs and progress in treatment.

The Inpatient Healthy Lives Program  (IHeLP) provides treatment to inmates who are at the highest risk for sexual re-offense.  The program uses materials and assignments in a group therapy setting.  This is an intensive eighteen to twenty-four months program, though individual treatment time varies based on the needs and progress in treatment.

The Strategic Treatment and Reintegration (STAR) unit provides residential treatment services to female inmates with mental illness.


Outpatient Treatment Services

Anger-Violence Programming

Programming is offered to high risk inmates with a history of violence.  Programming includes anger management which provides instruction and practice on basic anger control strategies. The Violence Reduction Program (VRP) is an empirically validated approach to intervening with higher risk instrumentally violent offenders.


Outpatient Healthy Lives Program (oHeLP)

Treatment is offered to those inmates who are assessed to be at a relatively higher risk to sexually reoffend. Participants in oHeLP work through materials and assignments in group therapy.  oHeLP takes about one year to complete.


Bibliotherapy Healthy Lives Program (bHeLP)

Treatment is offered to those inmates assessed to be at low risk to sexually reoffend, relative to other sex offenders.  Participants in bHeLP work at their own pace on materials provided by the therapist.  bHeLP takes several months to complete.


Continuing Care

Continuing Care is for those individuals who have completed the recommended sex offender treatment program.  People in the Continuing Care program work in a group setting with peers and therapists to address treatment needs as they arise.


Psychological Services

Psychological evaluations are completed based on Unit Staff or Parole Board referral.


PREA-Related Services

Mental Health Staff assist with the provision of assessment and treatment services for offenders identified as a high risk for predatory behaviors and offenders who are at risk for victimization.


Other Services

Crisis management services are also available as needed.


Substance Abuse Services

Substance abuse offers a wide range of treatment services to address the needs of offenders who have substance abuse or substance dependence issues.  Services include residential and non-residential treatment and assessment of substance-related problems.


Residential Programs

DCS maintains over 300 long term residential treatment beds at four separate facilities.  Inmates assigned to these programs have been identified as having serious substance abuse issues.  The residential program generally lasts about six months.

Non-residential Programs

This service is available for offenders who are not eligible for the residential program who have lower level substance abuse issues and is available at three facilities.  The program lasts up to six months.


Social Work Services

Social work offers a wide range of services ranging from assessment to referral with a focus on providing thorough discharge planning services for the high risk populations.


Psychiatric Services

Psychiatry services are offered to provide pharmacological treatment to inmates with mental illness.  All of the institutions are served by Staff Psychiatrists, a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, or Consulting Psychiatrist who prescribes and manages psychiatric medications.