Mental Health and the Law – Research Projects

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Mental Health and the Law – Research Project

Therapeutic jurisprudence, mental health, and Arctic courts

This completed project examined whether the therapeutic jurisprudence principles that guide criminal court mental health initiatives in southern Canada and elsewhere are transferrable to Nunavut. The results suggest that Inuit culture, including its recent history of cultural disruption and change, affects the vulnerability of Nunavut communities to the potential legal and moral pitfalls associated with therapeutic jurisprudence and criminal court mental health initiatives. These pitfalls include the dominance of biomedical approaches when identifying a target population, the medicalization of behaviour and culture, the risk of “paternalism” in therapeutic interventions, and shortcomings in interdisciplinary collaboration that limit considerations of Inuit culture. These pitfalls are not fatal to efforts to bring the rehabilitative benefits of these initiatives to Nunavut, but they require careful vigilance when employing therapeutic jurisprudence principles in Indigenous circumpolar context.

Publication:  Ferrazzi, P., & Krupa, T. (2016). “Symptoms of something all around us”:  Mental health, Inuit culture, and criminal justice in Arctic communities in Nunavut, Canada. Social Science and Medicine, 165, 159-167.  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S027795361630394X