Washington District and Municipal Judges receive Virtual Training on Mental Illness


It is more important than ever during these turbulent times and pandemic to stay connected to resources and information to improve the justice system response to those with mental illness and co-occurring disorders.  Subscribe here to receive the Behavioral Health Alerts newsletter and remember to distribute these Alerts as widely as possible in your state and community.

Stay Tuned for an Exciting Announcement in the next Behavioral Health Alert! The appointment of a National Judicial Task Force will be announced, and a Report on Decriminalization of Mental Illness will be released.

Washington District and Municipal Judges receive Virtual Training on Mental Illness – Two sessions were held Sunday May 31 and Monday June 1st on Judicial Leadership and Leading Change, the Sequential Intercept Model, and competency delays and developments regarding the Trueblood litigation. For more information, contact ptobias@ncsc.org.

SJI Awards a Curriculum Adaptation and Training (CAT) Grant – The Missouri Courts and the NCSC will be developing a curriculum for Presiding Judges on Leading Change in their communities. When finished, the Curriculum is intended to be replicable in other states and jurisdictions.

Research and Resources

Frequently Asked Questions: A Look into Court-Based Behavioral Health Diversion Interventions This CSG fact sheet is a complement to Behavioral Health Diversion Interventions: Moving from Individual Programs to a Systems-Wide Strategy, which talks about developing a community-wide diversion plan across the criminal justice continuum, but notes that communities will need to determine priorities based on their specific needs. This publication, answers some common questions from people who may want to invest in court-based diversion, such as why set up this type of intervention, who can implement it, what are some common best practices, and where and what can people be diverted to?

From Hospitals to Handcuffs: Criminalizing Patients in Crisis From Hospitals to Handcuffs makes multiple recommendations to health care facilities, police, prosecutors, and policymakers, and concludes: “Every person providing health care and every person who needs it deserves a system that is humane and responsive. No one should fear going to work just as no one should fear that the symptoms that brought them to a hospital will lead instead to jail.”

From Courtroom to Clinic Legal Cases that Changed Mental Health Treatment Why do present-day mental health professionals practice the way that they do? Over the past fifty years, a number of landmark court holdings have changed such basic principles as what material is confidential, how civil commitment and involuntary treatment are conducted, and when a therapist has a duty to protect the public from a dangerous patient. Unlike most legal texts, this volume explores these complex principles through the human stories of the litigants involved.

The Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative Newsletter Recent news stories, publications, and resources, including practice guidance for psychiatrists during COVID-19 and how courts are responding to the pandemic.

Evaluation and Restoration of Competence to Stand Trial: Intercepting the Forensic System Using the Sequential Intercept Model This review aims to describe and demystify these forensic processes and to highlight the potential use of the SIM to decrease jail stays and maximize community service connections for individuals with some of the most impairing mental health conditions who are involved in the justice system and for whom diversion is a safe option. The authors offer specific examples of intercept opportunities at each step involved in evaluations of CST and in the competence restoration processes.

Challenges to Reforming the Competence to Stand Trial and Competence Restoration System In this review, the authors describe the current CST-CR system and offer preliminary solutions to its challenges. In addition, they examine published works on the legal foundation of CST to help support the basis for this analysis. The results of this review point to the need to more effectively address the complexities of the CST-CR systems and highlight the importance of collaboration across legal and clinical systems. Guidance to states can be best facilitated by support for empirical research on the individual- and system-level factors that contribute to the waitlists and system paralysis that have a negative impact on people with serious mental illness in the criminal justice system.

TAC Research Weekly: Utilizing Video Conferencing with People with Schizophrenia Video conferencing interventions may be a promising method of interacting with and treating people with schizophrenia, despite its challenges, according to a review published in the  Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare  in January of this year.

Proposed Public Health and Public Safety Pathways for Criminal Justice System Responses to COVID-19 A wide array of criminal justice stakeholders1 have come together to call for a public health- oriented approach to the COVID-19 crisis. The key recommendations follow.

Recalling Childhood Abuse May Matter More for Mental Health Than Records Recalling a personal account of childhood maltreatment is more closely linked to mental health problems than legal proof that the maltreatment occurred, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

Justice Briefing: CSG Justice Center Newsletter Common questions on diverting people with behavioral health needs from jail; how to reduce recidivism; and a Tweet Chat on COVID-19 in jails.

National Council for Behavioral Health BHIVE Newsletter The pandemic continues to raise more questions than answers for many behavioral health organizations. How can we provide services while maintaining the safety of patients and staff? What is the best way to maintain operations in the face of declining revenues? What can we expect in terms of federal assistance?

PTACC Ticker Wednesday, May 27th Includes 10 steps deflection and pre-arrest diversion sites can take to continue operating during the pandemic, as well as 10 steps to think about, plan, and prepare for coming out of and after the pandemic, and other Police, Treatment, and Community Collaborative resources.

New Webinar: Improving Cultural Competence across the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) This webinar, hosted by SAMHSA’s GAINS Center, will provide participants with practical strategies to reduce racial and ethnic disproportionality among individuals with mental and/or substance use disorders who are interfacing with the justice system.

Webinar - Data Sharing among Criminal Justice & Behavioral Health Partners: Addressing Data Sharing Agreements & Confidentiality Concerns One challenge to data sharing among criminal justice or behavioral health agencies can be agreeing upon the data that will be shared and how it will be shared. Lack of clarity around HIPAA and 42 CFR Part 2 regulations can complicate the process as well. This webinar will present information about the steps necessary to effectively establish data sharing agreements between partners.

SAMHSA Training and Technical Assistance Related to COVID-19 The latest list of SAMHSA products and resources.

SAMHSA Headlines SAMHSA news, training events and funding opportunities.

When Addiction and Mental Illness Collide: Can a team-based approach improve treatment for people with both opioid use disorder and mental health conditions? This research will explore how to use a well-known model of combining mental health and physical health care, called Collaborative Care, which has been shown to work for patients with mental illness and other physical conditions, to give better care to those suffering from opioid use disorders and mental illness.

The Never-Ending Loop: Homelessness, Psychiatric Disorder, and Mortality There is clearly a link between psychiatric disorders and homelessness; disentangling the nature of this relationship is complicated.

TAC Research Weekly: May Research Roundup Reports of research about increased psychosis prevalence during COVID, and the results of a study of Michigan jail screening for mental illness.

Coronavirus Guidance for the Criminal and Immigration Legal Systems Vera and Community Oriented Correctional Health Services have created a series of fact sheets to guide actors in these systems, who have a unique and critical role to play. Adopting the recommendations in these documents will help protect and care for the millions of vulnerable people who make contact with, and the staff who work for, the nation’s courts, police departments, prisons, jails, and detention centers.

In the News

Judge Calls System's Treatment of Those Who Have Mental Illnesses 'The Definition Of Insanity' NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Steven Leifman, who advocates for people with mental health issues in the criminal justice system. He's the focus of a PBS documentary.

The Trueblood Lawsuit and Opportunities for Justice System Improvements In 2017, Washington State was given an opportunity to develop diversion efforts, targeting those for whom the question of competency had been raised in regard to recent legal charges. Washington State had been experiencing a significant backlog in completing competency evaluations and restoration services within the timelines of the state statute. Ultimately this resulted in a class-action lawsuit against the state, on behalf of those who had been incarcerated for long periods of time awaiting a competency evaluation and restoration, which at that time was only provided by the two state psychiatric hospitals. This lawsuit would come to be known as the Trueblood lawsuit.

New report: Arrests at Seattle Hospitals Highlight Gaps in Mental-Health Systems A new report by Disability Rights Washington (DRW) documents the arrest of more than 100 people in a one-year period at seven Seattle health care facilities, highlighting one way people suffering from mental health crises find themselves tumbling into the criminal justice system.

Solutions to Restore Inmates’ Mental Health and Get Them to Trial Texas explores outpatient competency restoration, jail-based competency restoration, tele-psychiatry and specialized county mental health courts that can divert individuals from jail.

Using Courts to Help Solve the Mental Health Crisis America’s three largest psychiatric treatment facilities are prisons—a result of the sharp decline in the number of psychiatric hospital beds since 1955—and over 16% of people in prisons are dealing with some form of serious mental illness. The criminal justice system has assumed the woe begotten position as a backstop to the public health system.

Milpitas City Council Endorses Laura’s Law to Support People with Mental Health Disorders The Milpitas City Council unanimously voted to endorse Laura’s Law, a state law that empowers courts to mandate psychiatric treatment for certain people with mental health disorders. The treatment mandate applies even if the given individual refuses to undergo psychiatric care voluntarily. Individuals will be sent to assisted outpatient treatment programs per a judge’s orders.

Brooklyn’s Problem-Solving Courts Experience a Smooth Reopening New York City’s problem-solving courts reopened on May 4, and Administrative Judge Matthew D’Emic told the Brooklyn Eagle that his judges have not only gone back to work, but the first two weeks of reopening went smoothly.

Even in Coronavirus Outbreak, Chester County Drug Court Proves Successful “Their check-ins remain the same — weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, it is just done differently, by phone or Zoom. We give them a ton of resources, everything from 12-step programs to yoga classes. And most of our clients have taken advantage of using them.”

Whatcom’s Drug, Mental Health Court Participants Struggle Due to Coronavirus Pandemic In mid-March, the program moved to virtual hearings for its 45 participants. The program stopped doing urine drug tests, except in emergency situations. It stopped admitting people to the program because the level of care required during the first stages of the program can’t be provided as normal. And the pandemic has also made certain sanctions the program uses to hold members accountable, such as work release crews or community service, unavailable, according to program officials.

The Latest from The Kennedy Forum We've been working hard to help ensure more Americans are able to access mental health and addiction care—during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a list of recent activity.

Mental Illness Treatment in Meltdown Today, we’re 95,000 beds short of need for the mentally ill. How have we found ourselves in a society where it's nearly impossible to get access to decent psychiatric care?

For Mentally Ill Defendants, Coronavirus Means Few Safe Options Across the country, even before the COVID-19 crisis, criminal defendants in need of competency restoration have often waited weeks or months in county jails for a hospital bed to open up. But the pandemic has stalled many cases even further, trapping some individuals in jails as hospitals try to wall themselves off from new infections.

Being An Agent Of Change For Workplace Mental Health In the past few months, and for the foreseeable future, employers have been or will begin soon to strategize ways to support employee mental health as workforces around the world continue to adjust to new work environments, the persistent risk of Covid-19, and an uncertain future.

Treatment Not Jail Approximately 45 percent of people in CCI’s Supervised Release Program are flagged for potential mental health needs and about 16 percent of people currently held in Rikers Island jails have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness. These numbers highlight the disproportionate representation of those with mental health needs who get caught up in the justice system.

May SJI Newsletter The State Justice Institute newsletter, announcing board grant decisions and state court resources.

State of Justice - CSG Justice Center Trending criminal justice news and opinions from across the 50 states, presented by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center.

In the Face of Covid-19, the U.S. Needs to Change How it Deals with Mental Illness Before Covid-19 arrived in the U.S., the country was in the midst of a mental illness crisis. Suicide rates in the United States rose 33% between 1999 and 2017. In 2018, 1.7 million people had an opioid use disorder. Now a deadly virus and the resulting isolation and economic hardship threaten to exacerbate the crisis. (OpEd by the President of the American Psychiatric Association).

COVID-19 Deepens Toll of Opioid Crisis, Webinar Told In addition to deaths from COVID-19, addiction experts estimate 85,000 people will die in the coming years from a fatal cross-over between the virus and substance abuse disorders, leading to “deaths of despair” from suicide and overdose, an expert panel heard Monday.

SMI, Homelessness, and COVID-19: Creating a System of Support for the Most Marginalized Populations Conversations in communities across the nation, whether in jails or inpatient hospitalization, look something like this: “If we release arrestees or discharge patients, where will they go?”

About Us - The Mental Health Coalition The Mental Health Coalition was formed with the understanding that the mental health crisis is fueled by a pervasive and devastating stigma, preventing millions of individuals from being able to seek the critical treatment they need.

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