Mental Health Counseling

The Benedict Center’s integrated approach to mental health, including trauma, substance use and support services using best practices (evidence based) and curriculums designed specifically for justice-involved women addresses an otherwise unmet need in the community. 

Program Need

Jails and prisons are now the largest mental health providers in the United States.  Women in the justice system are also more likely than men to have untreated substance use disorders, severe mental health conditions, and complex histories of trauma. 

Recent attention has been given to the increasing number of incarcerated people with mental health problems as well as substance abuse issues. Some have suggested that due to the inadequacy of community mental health resources “jails have become psychiatric crisis centers of last resort."
(Osher et al, 2002, p. 12)

According to a 2013 Vera Institute publication, serious mental illness has been documented in 31% of women in a jail setting, mostly for minor, non-violent crimes. Over 70% of people with serious mental illness also have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder.  However, the majority of these individuals do not receive care, or the care is inadequate, thereby increasing their risk for victimization, segregation or re-arrest. 

These unprecedented numbers are why national organizations like the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and the National Association of Counties (NACo), as well as local efforts like the Milwaukee County Criminal Justice Council are calling for  initiatives “to lower the number of people with mental illnesses in jails by improving access to effective mental health and co-occurring substance use treatment, strengthening criminal justice collaborations with behavioral health stakeholders, and advancing public safety goals.” 

Mental Health Treatment at the Benedict Center

By providing treatment for substance use disorders and mental health (co-occurring model)  for women referred to the Benedict Center by the criminal justice system, we have a significant impact on reducing the level of crisis management (Emergency Rooms, residential psychiatric care) and reducing the risk of recidivism (returning to jail/prison).  

As a licensed behavioral health facility, the Benedict Center Women’s Harm Reduction Program provides an array of individual mental health and substance use treatment and psychotherapeutic group counseling services focused on helping women reduce their substance use and address their underlying mental health issues, trauma, and histories of abuse.  All services are gender responsive, and trauma informed and are grounded in a harm reduction approach that builds upon the assets and skills of justice involved women and creates an environment based on safety, respect and dignity.  

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Groups focus on empowering women to reframe negative thinking, learn how to regulate their emotions, and increase their resilience to stress.  For instance, Seeking Safety helps women learn practical, safe coping skills that they can use in their everyday lives to reduce trauma-related symptoms.  Moving On teaches justice-involved women how to build healthy relationships and increase their connections to the community.

For information on other groups available, contact the Women’s Harm Reduction Program at 414-347-1774.