Module 5: Designing Policies and Procedures for Program Participation

Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum is a free online multimedia curriculum for individuals and teams seeking to start, maintain, or just learn about mental health courts.

Module 5: Designing Policies and Procedures for Program Participation helps you design program policies and procedures that comply with relevant laws.

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand how a mental health court program can be designed to protect legal rights
  2. Describe how to design a referral process for your program
  3. Identify considerations for determining the duration of an individual’s participation

Prep Work

Provides background reading to introduce you to the topics discussed in this module. All resources are available for free online. You will need access to a computer to complete this step. Estimated completion time: 30 minutes

Presentation


Module 5: Designing Policies and Procedures for Program Participation
Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum is a free online multimedia curriculum for individuals and teams seeking to start, maintain, or just learn about mental health courts.

Quiz

Reinforces your knowledge of the concepts you learned in the module. You will need access to a computer to complete this step. Estimated completion time: 10 minutes

Questions

5.1 Which of the following strategies for accessing individual health information of mental health court applicants and participants are appropriate and legal? Check all that apply.

    

5.2 True or False: Anyone can potentially refer an individual to a mental health court.

  

5.3 True or False: It is impossible to estimate the duration of an individual’s participation in a mental health court program until the person is in the program and you can observe his/her progress.

  

5.4 Which of the following steps are important for designing a mental health court program that complies with the law? Check all that apply.

     

5.5 What is the best way to define a participant\’s success in a mental health court program?

    

Answers

5.1. Correct answer: b, c, and d may all be appropriate, depending on the circumstances. Mental health court programs should design procedures to ensure written consent for behavioral health care providers and others covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or other information privacy regulations to share protected information (d). In an emergency, a court order can also be used (b). A MOU between two government agencies (c) may be another appropriate way to ensure quick and secure transfer of information where permitted.

5.2  Correct answer: True. However, programs should develop materials that clearly lay out eligibility criteria to minimize inappropriate referrals.

5.3  Correct answer: False. To make an informed choice, an individual should be aware of all terms of participation—including the maximum duration—before deciding to apply to the program. The duration should not exceed the length of incarceration or probation that would be appropriate for the his/her charges in the traditional court setting.

5.4  Correct answer: a, b, c, d, and e. Stakeholders with legal expertise should be included in the planning process; in addition, judges and attorneys will be critical stakeholders in the program (a). Ensuring that defense counsel is appointed early in the process is critical to protecting participants\’ rights (b). With approaches as new as problem-solving courts, it is important to keep up with relevant new laws and court rulings (c). Consulting other experts is invaluable to gaining knowledge of best practices in establishing a program (d). Finally, potential participants must be made aware of the program\’s policies and procedures so that they can make an informed choice to participate and be aware of any rights they waive by doing so (e).

5.5  Correct answer: c. In order to treat all participants fairly and ensure that resources are being used most effectively, mental health court policies should have a clear definition of success that applies to all participants. A universal definition of success can have components that are based on individual needs and goals. For example, a requirement that all program graduates must be in substantial compliance with their treatment plan is a universal definition of success that incorporates individualized requirements based on needs and capacities.

Activities Guide

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. One of the Activities in this module requires that you watch a short video segment of a mental health court team in action. The Activities include components you will complete on your own and others to be completed as a group. 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.

Video

This video features members of the Bonneville County (ID) Mental Health Court team, a real mental health court team and a Bureau of Justice Assistance Mental Health Court Learning Site, engaging in a simulated team meeting and discussing a hypothetical program participant. The Bonneville team is not shown as a “model;” for example, some may note the absence of a defense attorney at team meetings. Rather, the Bonneville team represents real people facing real challenges in a mental health court setting.

Meet the mental health court case study team members.

You will be prompted to view this video in the Activities Guide. You may also link directly to the video from the Activities Guide.

Module 5: Leah Bain Case Staffing Meeting
Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum is a free online multimedia curriculum for individuals and teams seeking to start, maintain, or just learn about mental health courts.

Additional Resources

Policy and Practice Guides

“A Handbook for Developing a Mental Health Court Docket.” The Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio Judicial System. n.d. This handbook offers judges’ and mental health court practitioners’ insights and recommendations for communities planning and implementing mental health courts. Page 49 focuses on developing mental health court program materials.
Available here

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. This guide offers advice on planning and implementing mental health courts.
Available here

Petrila, John, and Hallie Fader-Towe. Information Sharing in Criminal Justice-Mental Health Collaborations: Working with HIPAA and Other Privacy Laws. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2010. This publication discusses information-sharing for behavioral health and criminal justice practitioners working collaboratively.
Available here

Waters, Nicole L., Shauna M. Strickland, and Sarah A. Gibson. Mental Health Court Culture: Leaving Your Hat at the Door. Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts, 2009. See esp. page 30, “MHC Best Practices and Recommendations.” This publication (page 30) makes recommendations for developing written mental health court policies and procedures, developed following the National Center for State Courts’ 2008 examination of the experiences of seven mental health court teams.
Available here

Program Resources

Marlowe, Douglas B., and William G. Meyer, eds. The Drug Court Judicial Benchbook. Alexandria, VA: National Drug Court Institute, 2011. See esp. Chapter 2, Section X, “Phase Structure.” This benchbook serves as a resource for drug court practitioners; Chapter 2, Section X explores designing a treatment program phase structure for program participants.
Available here

“Mental Health Court Participant Handbook.” Kootenai County District Court Forms. 2008. This handbook details the policies and procedures for participation in the Kootenai County (ID) Mental Health Court.
Available here

Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco. “Behavioral Health Court Policies and Procedures Manual.” The Bar Association of San Francisco. 2008. This manual outlines the policies, procedures, and operations of the San Francisco Behavioral Health Court.
Available here