Dr. Galanek is a medical anthropologist with public health and mental health services training who focuses on mentally ill individuals in the criminal justice system, and how social and cultural processes unique to correctional institutions and community settings contribute to psychiatric recovery for this at-risk and vulnerable population. He received his PhD and MPH from Case Western Reserve University, an MA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Idaho and is currently a National Institute of Mental Health post-doctoral research scholar at the Brown School of Social Work. Prior to his academic training at Case Western Reserve University, he worked for the Oregon Department of Corrections for seven years in which he implemented mental health programming and release planning at Oregon State Penitentiary and provided direct service to inmates with severe psychiatric and substance abuse disorders. He has conducted mixed methods program evaluation services for community mental health and criminal justice agencies in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Galanek’s doctoral research was an ethnographic study of a maximum security prison. Combining qualitative interviews with staff and severely mentally ill men and observations of the prison environment, this research focused on how inmates recover from severe psychiatric disorder and how structural, interactional and cultural institutional processes contribute to this recovery. This research is the first of its kind to specifically examine the social and cultural context of mentally ill individuals incarcerated in the U.S., and identify those factors contributing to recovery, such as relationships with staff, peer support, system responsiveness processes, and institutional cultural values.
Dr. Galanek has recently published “The Cultural Construction of Mental Ilness in Prison: A Perfect Storm of Pathology” in Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, an interdisciplinary journal of medical and psychiatric anthropology.
This article examines how mental health clinicians conduct assessments of inmates with co-occurring Axis I disorders, personality disorders, substance abuse disorders, and medical conditions while embedded within the context of a maximum security penitentiary. This research discusses how clinicians may be confounded by the clinical complexities indicative of the incarcerated mentally ill population, and how the prison itself is identified as an etiological agent for disordered behavior and symptoms. It also examines the meanings of mental health practices in prison and how these practices are structured by the institutional context.
His current research agenda focuses on how clinical interactional processes such as therapeutic alliance and systems level processes such as the intersection and relationship of the mental health and criminal justice system affect treatment engagement for mentally ill individuals releasing from correctional institutions. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Ohio Department of Mental Health.
Mentally ill in the criminal justice system
Social and cultural determinants of mental health
Treatment engagement/disengagement for at-risk psychiatric populations