May 4, 2022
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. The National Center for State Court’s (NCSC) Behavioral Health Team contends that court administrative offices need behavioral health personnel to improve overall mental illness response programs. Working groups and task forces help set goals, but positions focused on mental health ensure long-term, consistent work improving mental health treatment.
Multiple state courts agree and have hired behavioral health personnel to complete their administrative team. These positions generally require years of experience in coordinating health programs to best support state court behavioral health initiatives. For example, several state court positions focused on mental health include:
- Illinois Statewide Behavioral Health Administrator
- Provides oversight on health projects and issues, develops relationships with state behavioral health programs, implements best practices into the court system
- Oregon’s Behavioral Health/Justice System Leadership Coordination
- A behavioral health team-leading statewide efforts involving behavioral health
- Includes behavioral health attorneys, and data/business analysts
- Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health (JCMH)
- Includes two staff attorneys, program managers, and support positions for implementing JCMH goals
- Idaho’s Statewide Behavioral Health Manager
- Implements best practices for the problem-solving courts, supplies sentencing alternatives, and is required to have 5-7 years of experience
These positions are designed to ensure targeted support for individuals living with mental illnesses as they interact with the court system. A focused position guarantees mental health advocates working within the court system and connecting more with overall community needs. Court behavioral health teams are meant to continuously screen and assess mental health courts and overall practices. Court employees should also receive mental health training and lessons on legal terminology to best assist constituents. NCSC’s Building Relationships to Lead Change includes ideas on how to improve behavioral health outcomes in the courts. It takes time to build relationships with local, state, and national organizations along with community-based groups to foster targeted change. Many state courts have therefore added behavioral health leadership positions.
NCSC has additional educational resources for behavioral health-related task forces and leadership positions. There are also mental health and well-being related resources for court employees who might need support.
For more information about behavioral health in the courts, sign up for the bi-monthly newsletter! Does your state have behavioral health leadership positions? Share them with us at Knowledge@ncsc.org or call 800-616-6164. Follow the National Center for State Courts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Vimeo.