The work of the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness is underway!

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Task Force Activities

The work of the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness is underway!The Task Force, chaired by Vermont Chief Justice Paul Reiber and Chief Administrative Judge Larry Marks of New York is organized into three workgroups: Criminal Justice, Civil, Probate and Families, and Education and Partnerships. Each workgroup is co-chaired by a Chief Justice and a State Court Administrator, and the 36 members represent a wide array of related professions and perspectives from across the nation. The work of the Task Force follows on that of the National Initiative to Improve the Court and Community Response to Mental Illness and is funded by the State Justice Institute.

Illinois Mental Health Task Force Virtual Summit SessionsAlmost 700 participants participated in each of the first three sessions in a series of five learning and planning webinars earlier this month. The series is entitled Improving the Court and Community Response to Persons with Mental Illness and Co-Occurring Disorders Through Compassion and Hope, and the sessions have focused on crisis services, mental health diversion from the criminal justice system, and learning from those with lived experience. Recordings of the sessions are online and available. NCSC is providing Technical Assistance to these sessions, funded by the State Justice Institute.

Research and Resources

NCSC Tiny Chat: Empathy Judge Steven Leifman discusses the role of empathy in life, and in judging. It is never the wrong time to show empathy and practice mindfulness, and right now it is even more important than ever. Judge Leifman offers his perspective on how judges and court staff can be kind, practice mindfulness and help court patrons during these difficult times. Well worth the 10 minutes.

New App Will Help People with Serious Mental Illness Develop a Crisis Plan A new mobile app, My Mental Health Crisis Plan, allows individuals who have serious mental illness to create a plan to guide their treatment during a mental health crisis. The app was developed by SMI Adviser, an initiative administered by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The app provides an easy step-by-step process for individuals to create and share a psychiatric advance directive (PAD).

National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice Recommendations for Response and Future Readiness From its recommendations for mandatory mask wearing and widespread testing to our call for safe population reductions in correctional facilities and greater reliance on technology, the report reflects the best available evidence on how to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Webinar: How to Set Targets to Reduce the Number of People with Serious Mental Illness in Jails As part of Stepping Up's new call to action Set, Measure, Achieve, we will be hosting a webinar to explain how counties can obtain data to establish baselines for Stepping Up’s four key measures and set targets for reducing indicators of serious mental illness in jails. A representative from a county sheriff’s office will discuss the role of sheriffs in facilitating access to data on serious mental illness in jails. Speakers will also address specific challenges that can complicate counties’ efforts to identify accurate baseline data.

Mental Health First Aid: A Primer for Public Health Professionals and Communities Mental Health First Aid is a skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance-use issues. More importantly, it’s a tool that public health leaders across the United States have begun to employ to engage in early detection and intervention around the signs and symptoms of specific illnesses. The primer provides concrete tools and engagement with local mental health resources, national organizations, support groups and online tools for mental health and addiction treatment and support.

Solicitation for Applications: SAMHSA’S GAINS Center Seeks Communities to Develop Trauma-Informed Training Capacity The GAINS Center is offering a series of Train-The-Trainer (TTT) events to train local trainers to deliver its How Being Trauma-Informed Improves Criminal Justice System Responses training program. The target audiences for this training program are primarily community-based criminal justice system professionals, including law enforcement, community corrections (probation, parole, and pre-trial services), court personnel, re-entry staff, as well as human service providers that serve adult justice-involved populations.

CSG Justice Briefing People in Wyoming prisons fight the transmission of COVID-19; addressing the needs of people experiencing homelessness; how justice system leaders manage the coronavirus pandemic; and information on a Diverting People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities from the Criminal Justice System webinar.

PTACC Ticker Wednesday, October 14th This Police, Treatment and Community Collaborative newsletter includes information on upcoming webinars and resources including an Addiction Policy Forum: Providing Telehealth Support to Justice-Involved Individuals During COVID-19 Pandemic, LEAP/GLEPHA Webinar: The Police Experience with Overdose Prevention Sites, and more.

NAMI's Ask the Expert A compilation of webinars on a host of issues related to mental illness.

Mental-Health Courts: Expanding the Model in an Era of Criminal Justice This note proposes that state legislatures should expand access to mental-health courts so that mentally ill prisoners can (1) be referred for early-release consideration, (2) have the assistance of the mental-health court team to transition back into the community, and (3) receive community treatment services. Specifically, states should expand the authority of mental-health courts to hear current-prisoner cases, define the referral process for prisoner-participants, and define the mental-health court team for prisoner-participants. Washington University Journal of Law & Policy

Texas Mental Health Legislative Reform: Significant Achievements with More to Come This Article will discuss recent legislative and judicial initiatives, as well as focus on next steps. In particular, Section II of this Article will analyze several key legislative enactments intended to address some of these issues from the last two regular legislative sessions. In turn, Section III will discuss the creation of the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health. Finally, Section IV will highlight additional legislative proposals that are likely to come before the legislature in 2021. Texas Tech Law Review

Progressive Prosecution: It's Here, but Now What? The reality is that most people suffering from mental illness get brought to jail. This is a failure of our system. Often times, the arresting officer and the prosecutor assigned to the file the following day understand this failure. So, what is the solution? It is lofty, but we as a society need to invest again in the treatment of our mentally ill. We need to build more housing and fill that housing with mental health care providers, nurses, doctors, therapists, and other professionals who are trained and charged with caring for our addicted and our mentally ill. Mitchell Hamline Law Review

Coming Home to Work: Ways to Support Employment after Incarceration Employment for individuals reentering the community after incarceration is a critical factor in providing stability and reducing the likelihood of further criminal justice involvement, especially for individuals with mental and substance use disorders. This webinar presents three perspectives on how employment is a necessary component of a successful transition back into the community. Information about employment programming in a correctional setting will be covered, as well as recommendations for starting and running a community-based reentry employment program.

TAC Research Weekly: Sexual Violence Faced by Women with Serious Mental Illness Women with serious mental illness, more so than the general population, were more likely to report adverse psychosocial effects and suicidal behavior due to sexual violence. Given that women with serious mental illness are more at risk of sexual violence, the study authors suggest that health care professionals should work to improve violence detection methods and utilize trauma-informed care for the treatment of serious mental illness.

BHive Newsletter - News, Resources and Learning Opportunities National Council for Behavioral Health newsletter with information about the application portal for Phase 3 of HHS’ Provider Relief Fund, Harm Reduction Learning Program, upcoming webinars, and more.

Healing Minds NOLA Zoom Cast: Next up! Dr. Drew and Dr. Ken Rosenberg on - Serious Mental Illness, Homelessness & Housing Those familiar with the challenges associated with untreated and under-treated serious mental illnesses will be familiar with this common refrain: "discharge to what?" Many people diagnosed with SMIs live in a perpetual state of transient crisis care, moving from ERs and hospitals, to shelters and jails, to group homes (often unlicensed) and apartments with inadequate supports.

COSSAP Webinar: The Youngest Victims of the Opioid Epidemic: Law Enforcement’s Role in the Response First responders, particularly law enforcement, are in a unique position to help identify and divert children to community-based treatment and other services, thus diverting children away from the negative consequences of exposure to drug use. Such steps, also known as law enforcement-led deflection (or law enforcement-led diversion), can have significant effects in identifying and addressing the needs of children exposed to and endangered by the presence of illegal drugs (or their manufacture, distribution, etc.) in their lives and homes.

Update: SAMHSA Training and Technical Assistance Related to COVID-19 SAMHSA is committed to providing regular training and technical assistance (TTA) on matters related to the mental and substance use disorder field as they deal with COVID-19. Our TA programs are delivering great resources during this time. View the updated available TTA resources to assist with the current situation.

Effectively Assess and Treat Substance Use Disorder As we continue to navigate the pandemic, it’s important for all healthcare practitioners to be aware of the signs and symptoms of substance use disorder (SUD), including opioid use disorder (OUD). With the pandemic affecting the ways individuals normally address their stress and anxiety, this can lead to unhealthy coping behaviors such as binge drinking and/or overusing prescription or over-the-counter medications. For people in recovery, these same pandemic concerns can be significant triggers to relapse.

In the News

Executive, judicial, legislative branches unite efforts to improve behavioral health care for Idahoans Governor Brad Little, all five Idaho Supreme Court Justices, and legislators signed documents establishing and supporting the Idaho Behavioral Health Council, a new three-branch approach to improve care for Idahoans with mental health and substance use disorders. The signing of the Governor’s executive order, the Supreme Court Proclamation and Order, and the legislative Concurrent Resolution creates a 13-member council that will work collaboratively with local government, educators, and community partners to develop a statewide strategic plan with action-oriented, time-bound recommendations that improve access to care. The Idaho Behavioral Health Council will include representatives from all three branches of state government.

Rethink Crisis Response: People who call 911 shouldn't get an ill-trained police officer, especially when they're dealing with a mental health emergency Miami-Dade is a large county that was able to follow the [CIT] tripartite strategy. Shootings by police have declined by 90 percent since CIT training was implemented in 2010, but the program accomplished something more: It shined a light on the high incidence among police of depression and suicide. According to Judge Steven Leifman, who established the Miami-Dade program, officers who go through the training "have been more willing to recognize their own stress [and] reach out to the program's coordinator for mental-health advice and treatment for their own traumas."

Meaningful reform is investments in diversion programs, not $2.6 billion to rent new prisons Snatched from their communities and placed in a system that prioritizes punishment over rehabilitation, many people who find themselves in Alabama’s prisons would be better off in programs meant to treat their specific needs; specifically, diversion programs like drug court, mental health court, or community corrections.

AMA applauds California’s groundbreaking mental health reform law | American Medical Association The American Medical Association (AMA) applauded California Governor Gavin Newsom and the sponsors of the state’s new mental health reform law, Senate Bill 855, which will require all health insurers and behavioral health management organizations to rely on evidence-based treatment guidelines developed by physicians and health care professionals—and not financial considerations. These new state reforms go into effect on January 1, 2021.

Settlement with LA County will provide mental health services for foster youth The County of Los Angeles has entered into a new settlement of a longstanding lawsuit, Katie A v. Bontá, where it has made a number of commitments to significantly increase intensive home and community based mental health services for thousands of children and youth involved with the County's foster care system.

LA NAMI Chapter Questions Death by Police: Warn of Cutbacks to CIT Training The Greater Los Angeles chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness has written a letter demanding answers about the death of a seriously mentally ill man at the hands of sheriff’s deputies. The letter also warns of what I fear is an alarming problem across our nation – the scaling back of robust Crisis Intervention Team training for law enforcement as localities shift responsibility away from police/deputies to other first responders.

ACLU Report Finds Colorado Jail Depopulation Policies are Smart, Safe and Fiscally Responsible, Many Colorado Sheriffs Agree A new ACLU of Colorado report “COVID-19 Jail Depopulation in Colorado: An Unexpected Path Forward” found that jail depopulation in Colorado has been smart, safe, and thoughtful, with a clear focus on reserving jail beds for people who pose a threat to others. This report uses original data and research to assess the impact of depopulation policies implemented in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis and calls on legislators to memorialize these policies into law in 2021 to maintain low jail populations.

Mental health court gives public defenders a tool for treatment Public defenders in Butte County stepped forward to support a mental health diversion court system in Butte County, to address major concerns about homelessness and mental illness from the criminal justice side.

Collin County designates juvenile mental health program The program aims to help juvenile offenders who have a mental illness and are acting out or violating the law, according to documentation provided to the commissioners court. The program would use a multidimensional approach that would include families, treatment providers and local school districts.

Opinion: Oklahoma mental health advocates called to act “A mental health crisis deserves a mental health response.” White said mental health professionals should be a key part of first-response systems, an idea also forwarded by those seeking police reform. Her former agency, she said, must be empowered to focus “fully and adequately on the growing crisis.”

As movement grows to reduce police involvement in mental health crisis calls, Virginia legislators try to figure out a statewide model Among the more promising alternatives that cities across the country, including in Virginia, have adopted or are experimenting with is sending mental health professionals instead of police officers to certain 911 calls. The Virginia General Assembly is working on legislation that would create a statewide mechanism mandating localities to implement what is being called a Marcus Alert system. The new protocol would dispatch counselors to 911 calls when a person has a mental illness, developmental disorder or substance abuse issue.

Why We Need to Pay Attention to Police Officers’ Mental Health The intense scrutiny and criticism focused on police this year is having a dramatic impact on officer mental health and job attitudes, an August survey of active police officers found. The online survey is part of a study released in September that looks at the need for police mental health training and intervention. It raises alarms about both the psychological distress currently experienced by police and the implications for police departments and the communities they serve.

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