This paper presents the results of a qualitative study designed to explore and identify the resources that probation officers need to implement specialized mental health probation caseloads, a promising practice that enhances mental health treatment engagement and reduces recidivism among people with mental illnesses. Our research team conducted a directed content analysis guided by the Practical, Robust Implementation and Sustainability Model (PRISM) to analyze qualitative interviews with 16 specialty mental health probation officers and their supervising chiefs. Results indicated five components and resources related to multiple PRISM constructs: (1) meaningfully reduced caseload sizes (intervention design), (2) officers' ability to build rapport and individualize probation (organizational staff characteristics), (3) specialized training that is offered regularly (implementation and sustainability infrastructure), (4) regular case staffing and consultation (implementation and sustainability infrastructure), and (5) communication and collaboration with community-based providers (external environment). Agencies implementing specialized mental health probation approaches should pay particular attention to selecting officers and chiefs and establishing the infrastructure to implement and sustain specialty mental health probation.
Keywords: Criminal justice; Implementation science; Mental illness; Probation; Substance use.