Mental health has been a major topic of discussion over the past several weeks. Identifying, assessing and treating individuals with mental health issues is the goal of a new movement made up of mental health professionals, community members and law enforcement. The mass murders in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut have been the impetus for dialogue on what can be down to prevent such violence in the future. Improving mental health options outside and inside the criminal justice system has been mentioned. Not every person with a mental health issues commits atrocities. But, too often a person with a mental illness commits a minor crime such as disorderly conduct, or is hauled to jail because his or her behavior disturbs other people.
In America there are several types of courts that divert people from incarceration. Substance abuse courts help individuals get treatment for their drug or alcohol problems. Veterans’ courts connect vets to programs that offer support and treatment for the problems that got them arrested in the first place. Often these problems are caused by PTSD or traumatic brain disorder. Child support courts seek to help a parent in arrears of child support stay out of jail and help pay for the child’s upbringing.
Now the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center with the support of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance and in partnership with the National Center for State Courts, SAMHSA’s GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation, the National Judicial College, and the Center for Court Innovation is offering a multimedia curriculum for those who are interested in starting a mental health court.
The media release from the Justice Center states, “The curriculum is the first single resource with the information teams need to start, maintain, or just learn about mental health courts based on research and best practices from the field. Organized into freestanding modules, it can easily be customized for users’ specific learning needs and time considerations. Its multimedia content includes interviews with researchers, judges, court managers, program coordinators, treatment providers, probation officers, and other experts. A multi-part video follows a real mental health court team through common situations.
Developing a Mental Health Court is a crucial one-stop resource for judges, attorneys, mental health and substance abuse treatment providers and administrators, court managers, judicial educators, probation and law enforcement officers, and many others. It can be used by those interested in starting new mental health courts or retooling programs already in operation. Individuals joining existing programs will also find it helpful.
While the full curriculum is designed to take about 32 hours, groups can also use portions of the curriculum to complement their existing knowledge. Extensive resources are available on the curriculum website to help users make the most of the curriculum and to guide training coordinators and facilitators."
The curriculum can be found by clicking on the link below.