Ethics Grand Rounds: Medicalizing and Criminalizing Mental Health

May 2, 2023 Ethics Grand Rounds on Incarceration and Health Justice

May 2, 2023

Title: Medicalizing and Criminalizing Mental Health


  • Kimberly Sue, MD PhD, Yale School of Medicine.
  • Leah G. Pope, PhD, New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University.
  • Fay Owens, Urban Justice Center Mental Health Project.

Moderator: Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, PhD, Chief, Division of Ethics, Professor of Medical Humanities and Ethics, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Description: Individuals experiencing difficulties while living with a mental health diagnosis are often picked up by law enforcement. They are then taken – and set up to be entangled in medical and legal systems, or even killed. Despite policies in the United States to address mental health stigma, the gap between needed care and imposed interventions remains wide. How do we know that new interventions are working, and who are they working for? What more could we be doing? This Ethics Grand Rounds session will explore the way mental illness has routinely been both medicalized and criminalized, the impact of incarceration on mental health at large, and the work being done to promote harm reduction in New York City and beyond.

ResourcesClick here for a list of resources mentioned during this session.