The research on mental health courts is constantly growing and evolving, and it can be challenging for practitioners who are busy running programs to stay on top of the latest developments. With over 4,000 problem-solving court practitioners in attendance, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ (NADCP) Annual Training Conference provides an important venue for updating professionals working in the field on the year’s advances in research. At this year’s 19th annual conference, which took place July 14-17 in National Harbor, MD, the CSG Justice Center worked with conference organizers and Policy Research Associates, Inc., to facilitate a track on mental health courts. The track provided both introductory and advanced sessions tying conceptual principles to real-world examples, and offered attendees a platform to share their program successes, network with other mental health court practitioners, and consult with national experts for guidance on operational challenges.
The introductory session, “Mental Health Courts: A to Z,” highlighted fundamental issues and considerations in implementing and operating a mental health court, using the CSG Justice Center’s Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum as the focus of the discussion. Leaders from Colorado and Delaware who have used the curriculum shared their experiences operating programs that incorporate evidence-based practices to reduce recidivism and better link individuals with behavioral health needs to treatment and services.
Using case studies and real-world examples, the advanced session, “Risk and Needs in Mental Health Courts,” addressed how mental health courts can reduce recidivism and provide appropriate treatment for behavioral health needs. The session introduced the CSG Justice Center’s white paper Adults with Behavioral Health Needs under Correctional Supervision: A Shared Framework for Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery as a conceptual guide to triage participants based on their criminogenic risk levels and behavioral health needs and to determine appropriate interventions and supervision.
In total, national experts led more than 175 educational and training sessions at the conference on issues related to behavioral health and criminal justice.