Ottawa

Jury for inmate's suicide inquest recommends better mental health support

A jury looking into Yousef Mohamed Hussein's 2016 suicide at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre has released 29 recommendations focusing on better oversight for inmates with mental health issues.

Yousef Mohamed Hussein, 27, took his own life at Ottawa's jail in 2016 awaiting his sexual assault trial

Yousef Mohamed Hussein, 27, took his own life at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre on April 12, 2016. (Facebook)

A jury looking into Yousef Mohamed Hussein's 2016 suicide inside Ottawa's jail has released 29 recommendations focusing on better oversight for inmates with mental health issues.

Hussein, 27, took his own life inside the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre (OCDC) on April 12, 2016, while he was awaiting trial on several sexual assault charges. His family said at the time of his death that he had been waiting to go to trial for two years. 

Many of the recommendations that came out of the coroner's inquest are directed toward the jail and the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and how both institutions can offer enhanced mental health support for inmates and training for correctional officers.

Among them is a call for a "care map" for inmates who transition from suicide watch to other forms of housing in the jail. 

The jail should also consider assigning specific correctional officers to a dedicated area such as segregation or mental health "to ensure a working knowledge and continuity with the inmates, in order to recognize and address changes in mental health status."

'Individualized care path/treatment plan'

The jury recommended both the ministry and the jail give inmates who are taken off suicide watch access to basic belongings such as slippers, books and magazines with approval from a health care provider and an institutional manager.

"Any inmate who has been identified by MCSCS and/or OCDC as having a significant mental health concern, including suicidality, should have a clearly written, easily accessible and individualized care path/treatment plan," the jury recommended.

"This should be accessible to all those involved in their care (such as correctional officers, social workers, nurses, physicians or psychologists) although it may have varied levels of access, for privacy considerations."

Other recommendations include:

  • Ensuring there are no anchor points on any bunk beds in 1-wing (or anywhere else in the institution). 
  • Tracking mental health referrals.
  • Telemedicine for psychological and psychiatric assessments.
  • Increasing the number of radios available to correctional officers.
  • Ensuring there is effective recruitment and retention of mental health care professionals, such as social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health nurses at OCDC.

Hussein had been living in Ottawa on an expired student visa at the time of his arrest, police said. The alleged series of sexual assaults took place between August 2012 and October 2013. 

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