Module 2: Your Community, Your Mental Health Court
Module 2: Your Community, Your Mental Health Court identifies ways to tailor your mental health court program to your community’s unique needs and resources.
- Identify local- and state-level stakeholders who should help plan your mental health court
- Articulate common mental health court goals and ways of measuring these goals
- Understand how to build on local resources and priorities to shape your program
2.1. Which of the following groups of stakeholders do you think will face the most obstacles in starting a mental health court?
2.2. Sheriff Wall of Water County, a hypothetical county planning a mental health court, is interested in participating in the planning process for the new mental health court, but obviously has many demands on his time. How can the planners involve him in the process? Check all that apply.
2.3. Which of the following considerations are important for collecting baseline data to measure recidivism among individuals with mental illnesses? Check all that apply.
2.4. True or False: A mental health court should begin accepting participants within one month of beginning the planning process.
2.5. Which of the following are common challenges for identifying and linking mental health court participants to appropriate treatment and supports?
2.1 Correct answer: b. While many different combinations of stakeholders have successfully started mental health courts around the country, groups that do not include stakeholders from both the criminal justice system and the behavioral health system will generally face additional obstacles in starting a mental health court.
2.2 Correct answer: a, b, c, and d. Planners can use a variety of strategies to engage high-level stakeholders so that these very busy individuals can weigh in on appropriate strategic decisions and provide support where needed.
2.3 Correct answer: a, b, c, and d. There are numerous ways to define “recidivism,” which can measure re-arrests, re-incarcerations, or re-convictions (a). Jail bookings (c) are a common measure of recidivism. In order to do any sort of baseline measurement, the group to be measured must be clearly defined, which is why (b) and (d) are necessary. While (e) would provide interesting information about how much the target group is accessing behavioral health services, it is not necessary to calculate recidivism.
2.4 Correct answer: False. A good planning process can take six to nine months in order to identify all stakeholders, map all community needs, and build consensus about the program’s goals. It is common for programs to start small with a couple of participants to try out and then refine policies and procedures. For more discussion on starting with a pilot program, see Module 8: Program Management.
2.5 Correct answer: d. A careful and complete inventory of available services and supports needs to be conducted during the planning phase and regularly revisited once the program is operational. Program participants’ success and the success of the mental health court largely depend on the capacity to link participants with appropriate services and supports as soon as they are enrolled in the program.
Gives you an opportunity to apply the knowledge you acquired from this module’s Prep Work and Presentation and develop resources and processes tailored to your program. You will view videos of an actual court team, discuss issues with your teammates, complete worksheets, and more. Some of the Activities will be completed on your own and others as a group. You may want to print the Activities Guide, although you will also need access to a computer (with Adobe Flash Player installed) to view the accompanying videos. Estimated completion time: 2-3 hours
These Activities are designed to prompt discussion among your team about how you will interact as a single unit. Each Activity contains questions and worksheets to complete. You will complete some Activities on your own and others as a group. One of the Activities in this module requires that you watch short video segments of a mental health court team in action. At the end of the Activities, you will be asked to list three main issues that the Activities have raised for your own program planning.
Download the Activities Guide.
Policy and Practice Guides
Blandford, Alex M., and Fred C. Osher. A Checklist for Implementing Evidence-Based Practices and Programs (EBPs) for Justice-Involved Adults with Behavioral Health Disorders. Delmar, NY: SAMHSA’s GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation, 2012. This resource contains an easy-to-use checklist to help behavioral health agencies assess their utilization of evidence-based practices and programs (EBPs) associated with positive outcomes for individuals with behavioral health disorders who are involved in the criminal justice system.
Council of State Governments Justice Center. Mental Health Courts: A Primer for Policymakers and Practitioners. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2008. See esp. Page 8, “What Are the Goals of Mental Health Courts?” This primer identifies ten key components found in successful initiatives to improve outcomes for people with mental illnesses under probation supervision. Page 8 highlights the specific goals of mental health courts.
Justice Management Institute. Research-Based Smarter Sentencing: Participant Notebook. Denver, CO: Justice Management Institute, n.d. See esp. Module 5, “Action Plan Template.” This template provides problem-solving court practitioners with resources to plan and incorporate EBPs into treatment and case plans.
Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration. Rural Behavioral Health Programs and Promising Practices. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services, 2011. This document outlines the results of a survey of behavioral health service delivery in rural U.S. communities and offers recommendations to enhance effectiveness by adapting EBPs to circumstances that behavioral health providers face in rural areas.
Osher, Fred, David A. D’Amora, Martha Plotkin, Nicole Jarrett, and Alexa Eggleston. Adults with Behavioral Health Needs under Correctional Supervision: A Shared Framework for Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2012. This publication introduces criminal justice and behavioral health practitioners to an evidence-based framework for prioritizing scarce resources based on assessments of individuals’ risk of committing a future crime and their treatment and support needs.
Prins, Seth J., and Fred C. Osher. Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: The Essential Elements of Specialized Probation Initiatives. New York, NY: Council of State Governments, 2009. See esp. Element 1, “Collaborative Planning and Administration.” Element 1 of this guide highlights the mental health court collaborative planning process and provides mental health court practitioners with recommendations and suggestions about the types of community agencies that should be involved in the planning and implementation of a mental health court.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, A Guide to SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework. Rockville, MD: Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2019. SAMHSA developed this framework to help prevention planners address the behavioral health problems facing their states and communities.
Council of State Governments Justice Center. A Guide to Mental Health Court Design and Implementation. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2008. See esp. Step III, Section Eight, “The Mental Health Court Team.” Page 65 of this guide provides examples of mental health courts in rural jurisdictions that have tailored their programs to the needs and resources of their communities.
O’Keefe, Kelly. The Brooklyn Mental Health Court Evaluation: Planning, Implementation, Courtroom Dynamics, and Participant Outcomes. New York, NY: Center for Court Innovation, 2006. This publication details the evaluation by the Center for Court Innovation (CCI) of the Brooklyn Mental Health Court, a joint project of CCI, the New York State Unified Court System, and the New York State Office of Mental Health.
Zottola, John, et al. “Fostering Criminal Justice/Mental Health Collaboration: Building Lasting Partnerships.” Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project Webinar, July 19 2012. This webinar presentation highlights four mental health courts and the efforts they have made to build and maintain successful partnerships with community agencies and organizations.