The delivery of correctional health and mental health services is a critical part of the Board's mission. Spurred by its longstanding concern about inmate suicides, the Board held public hearings in the early 1980s to explore the quality and availability of mental health services provided to inmates. Thereafter, the Board worked collaboratively with the Departments of Correction, Health and Mental Hygiene, the Mayor's Office of Operations, the Office of Management and Budget and contract service providers to develop Mental Health Minimum Standards for the City's jails.
When the Mental Health Standards were implemented in 1985, New York City became the first jurisdiction in the country to voluntarily require the provision of appropriate mental health staffing and other resources to individuals incarcerated in its jails.
The results were immediate and significant. In 1986, the first full year of Standards implementation, there were three suicides – down from 11 the preceding year.
Key elements of these Standards include: