Behavioral Health and the Courts - Pandemic-Related Resources

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Task Force Activities

Behavioral Health and the Courts - Pandemic-Related Resources In collaboration with the CCJ-COSCA Rapid Response Team, Task Force work has focused on court responses to the added difficulties presented by the pandemic when dealing with cases involving individuals with serious mental illness. This page has direct links to all seven pandemic-related resources that were developed in 2020-2021 for the state courts.

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Research and Resources

How CMS Medicaid Initiatives Can Help States Fund 988 States across the nation are scrambling to develop or strengthen their crisis care systems before 988—the nationwide three-digit number for behavioral health emergencies—becomes a reality on July 16, 2022. Kirsten Beronio, JD, Policy and Regulatory Affairs director at the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare, says states can, at least in part, draw upon several existing CMS initiatives. She says the implementation of 988 is an opportunity for communities to improve both behavioral healthcare coordination and access, beginning with an integrated call center.

Follow Up: Colorado Virtual Summit on Mental Health and Criminal Justice More supportive housing, STAR Programs, co-responder programs, alternative to jail (access to care) facilities, and prosecutor-led diversion efforts. And more support for the existing efforts so that they’re available to all who need them. More judicial education about mental health. More support for court liaisons to care and services. These and other topics were covered in last week’s webinar, linked here.

New Data Clarifies the Link Between Homelessness and Incarceration To date, there has been no national data on how many people experiencing homelessness have had prior criminal justice involvement. New data from the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness helps fill this gap. The study was also able to parse how many people experienced homelessness before incarceration versus how many experienced homelessness after release - underscoring both the harms of criminalizing homelessness and the destabilizing effects of incarceration.

Criminalization and Normalization: Some Thoughts About Offenders with Serious Mental Illness The complex associations between serious mental illness and several of the key risk factors for criminal system involvement—most notably substance misuse—impact the design of effective programs intended to reduce reoffending. Given the practical difficulty of disentangling the treatment of mental disabilities from the provision of effective interventions to interrupt patterns of criminal behavior in offenders who have significant mental illness, some specialized attention to clinical mental health needs is warranted in correctional rehabilitation programs.

Developing and Implementing Your Co-Responder Program Many law enforcement agencies are beginning to seek out alternatives to arrest or hospitalization to position their officers for success in mental health calls and to help ensure best outcomes for the people in need. One growing approach is by pairing health care professionals with law enforcement officers to respond to these calls through police-mental health collaboration response models known as Co-Responder Teams. This 2-page CSG Justice Center brief describes the basic components of co-responder programs and offers 4 practical tips to start and successfully implement your own.

Opioid Response Network The SAMHSA funded The Opioid Response Network has local consultants in all 50 states and nine territories to respond to local needs by providing free educational resources and training to states, communities and individuals in the prevention, treatment and recovery of opioid use disorders and stimulant use.

JustGrants Training To provide targeted assistance to applicants applying for Department of Justice (DOJ) funding opportunities, DOJ’s JustGrants team is offering multiple webinar sessions on the application submission process.

Media Guide for Treatment Courts The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) developed this publication to help treatment courts confidently and effectively describe their accomplishments to the media and broader community.

State of Guardianship in New York Report: Incapacitated, Indigent and Alone: Meeting Guardianship and Decision Support Needs in New York The report described an alarming mix of Medicaid, housing, mental health, long-term care, and social services issues, as well as the need for alternative options to prevent guardianship.

Addressing the Adverse Impacts of COVID-19 on Children with Serious Emotional Disorders This SAMHSA sponsored webinar presented by the National Council for Behavioral Health, will take place Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 1 pm Eastern Time. he impacts academically, socially and emotionally have been staggering, particularly for children with pre-existing serious emotional disorders and their families.  There has been a reduction in referrals to child protective services, an increase in isolation, depression, anxiety, and a decrease in engagement which can lead to lower academic success.

New Support Centers Offer Behavioral Health Resources and Assistance The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center has launched two national support centers for communities and organizations looking to improve outcomes for people with behavioral health needs in contact with the criminal justice system. The Law Enforcement-Mental Health Collaboration Support Center and the Center for Justice and Mental Health Partnerships will serve as unique clearinghouses for free training, resources, and tailored assistance.

SAMHSA Headlines Your one-stop source for the latest from SAMHSA.

Medication Options for Treatment of Stimulant Use Disorders:  Optimistic Update and New Research Overdose deaths associated with illicit stimulants (cocaine and methamphetamine) have surged in the past eight years, according to a recent study by the National Institutes for Health (NIH). While there are currently no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of individuals who are dependent on stimulants, new treatments utilizing readily available medications are showing encouraging empirical support. March 2 webinar.

NCBH Capitol Connector The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of the Surgeon General (OSG) recently released The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Implement the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. The report outlines six action steps intended to “expand the national narrative to include the environmental factors in addition to individual factors contributing to suicide.” One of the key priorities identified is ensuring adequate crisis infrastructure to support the implementation of the national 988 number.

TAC Research Weekly: Schizophrenia is Second Largest Risk Factor in COVID-19 Mortality People with schizophrenia are at a substantially elevated risk of dying from COVID-19, according to new research. Published last month in JAMA Psychiatry, the study found that a schizophrenia diagnosis is the second largest predictor of mortality from COVID-19, second only to age. This groundbreaking finding has major implications for the treatment and prevention efforts surrounding COVID-19 and suggests that it is more important than ever to prioritize people with schizophrenia for COVID-19 vaccination.

February 5 NASMHPD Update Current funding opportunities, upcoming webinars, trainings and resources, and more from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.

National AOT Monitors Web Chat Betsy Johnson will lead a discussion session specifically for AOT monitors. (This role may have a different label in your program, but we use “monitor" to mean anyone who serves as a liaison between the court and treatment team, monitoring both patient adherence and delivery of services.) This discussion will focus on building community and addressing common issues monitors face.

SAMHSA’s New Series of Advisories on Substance Use Disorder Treatment SAMHSA has published a series of Advisories based on existing Treatment Improvement Protocols (TIPs) and Technical Assistance Publications (TAPs). These Advisories summarize updated guidance and recommendations on topics in the substance use disorder (SUD) treatment field.

Curated Library about Opioid Use For Decision-makers Winter 2021 Includes a section on peer support, a new resource Coercion Related to Mental Health and Substance Use in the Context of Intimate Partner Violence: A Toolkit for Screening, Assessment and Brief Counseling in Primary Care and Behavioral Health Settings, and more.

Reconnect Wrap This week in criminal justice, including court backlogs in Texas, grant opportunities, and an NCSC Tiny Chat with the lawyer cat judge.

Reducing Stigma Through Storytelling Over this past year, mental health struggles have become even more widespread. Yet, unlike other physical ailments, there is often a reluctance to openly discuss them. But what if that were not the case? Includes a link to The Manic Monologues A Virtual Theatrical Experience about Mental Illness.

Effective Data and Information Sharing Navigating Common Challenges YouTube link to a SAMHSA webinar about common data sharing challenges in order to support data and information sharing across organizations, agencies, and states.

In the News

As Need for Mental Health Care Surges, A Funding Program Remains Underused – California Health Report More than a third of Californians are enrolled in Medi-Cal. Claiming more administrative funding could increase counties’ mental health budgets by millions of dollars, freeing up other money for direct mental health care, said Alex Briscoe, a former director of Alameda County’s health agency who now works as a consultant to counties interested in increasing their administrative claims. But very few counties participate in the program, state data shows, and those who do mostly claim only small amounts.

MHM: What a Biden Presidency Means for Mental and Behavioral Health Care During an interview with the nonprofit Mental Health For US, Biden laid out his plans for mental and behavioral health care. The Biden Administration hopes to improve several different facets of mental and behavioral health care including veteran mental health, the opioid epidemic and structural disparities like access to care and insurance parity. The Biden Administration also said it will expand the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics Demonstrations program, work with Congress to expand access to long-term services and increase integrations of mental and behavioral health treatments into primary care. “Mental health is health, period. It should be treated that way by our insurers and our culture,” Biden said during his interview with Mental Health For US.

Tonko-Baldwin Medicaid Reentry Act Added to E&C Reconciliation This legislation empowers states to restore access to addiction treatment through Medicaid for incarcerated individuals up to 30 days before their release. The bill responds in part to alarming data that show individuals released from incarceration are 129 times more likely to die of a drug overdose during the first two weeks after release.

Opinion: Montgomery County’s alternatives to prosecutions work Although Montgomery County’s population increased by more than 100,000 people in the past 15 years, our jail population has dramatically decreased — from an average daily population of 906 in fall 2006 to 613 in fall 2019. Since the pandemic hit in March, the average fell to as low as 564 in September. The primary reason for both declines — and the key to maintaining this progress — is the extensive use of effective diversion programs and not relying on jail as the default to solve our criminal justice challenges.

State of Justice - CSG Justice Center Ohio takes big leaps forward on criminal justice reform. Advocates argue suspension of speedy trials will disenfranchise Kansans. California district attorneys differ over criminal justice reforms.

Bill requiring consideration of autism, mental illness in criminal justice system passes in Virginia Advocates say a law that bars Virginia courts from fully considering a person’s disability or mental illness is causing defendants with autism to fall through the cracks.

A recently passed bill would require judges to take these conditions into consideration in more stages of the criminal justice system. The legislation requires a judge to consider a defendant’s disability/mental illness at bail and sentencing stages. It adds training for court-appointed attorneys to provide clients with these conditions with a more rigorous defense. Some prosecutors fear there could be unintended consequences.

Want Better Govt. Mental Health and Substance Abuse Programs? Let Us Help! The Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) was created in December 2016 by Congress to foster collaboration and shared accountability for the 8 federal agencies that deliver services to adults with serious mental illnesses (SMIs) and children and youth with serious emotional disturbances (SEDs) and their families. Within a year, ISMICC’s first report was sent to Congress. Titled: The Way Forward: Federal Action for a System That Works for All People Living with SMI and SED and Their Families and Caregivers, the report offered 45 recommendations in five categories, that were drafted by ISMICC’s fourteen public members.

Colorado Counties Unite To Keep Mentally Ill Out Of Jail Law enforcement officials in counties across the state of Colorado are working to keep mentally ill people out of their jails and prisons by creating new programs to detect mental health problems before these individuals enter the criminal justice system.

Health care workers replaced Denver cops in handling hundreds of mental health and substance abuse cases — and officials say it saved lives A program that replaces police officers with health care workers on mental health and substance abuse calls in Denver, Colorado, is showing signs of success, according to a six-month progress report. Despite responding to hundreds of calls, the workers made no arrests, the report said — and the city's police chief told CBS News on Friday that he believes the program "saves lives."

He's Too Mentally Ill to Execute. Why Is He Still on Death Row After 45 Years? Like many longtime death row prisoners, experts have repeatedly deemed him to be delusional and “grossly psychotic.” Sometimes he describes himself as God or “King Moto-Cherry Velt-Love.” Other times he worries that he will be sacrificed to Satan by his demonic captors. He once set himself on fire. He may get to leave death row soon.

Mental Health America - Ranking The States States that are ranked 1-13 have lower prevalence of mental illness and higher rates of access to care for adults. States that are ranked 39-51 indicate that adults have higher prevalence of mental illness and lower rates of access to care.

The Health Philanthropy That Set About to Change Behavioral Health Crisis Care in Maryland Amid the global pandemic, Nikki Highsmith Vernick and Glenn E. Schneider of the Horizon Foundation, a health philanthropy in Howard County, Maryland, received landmark news. The Greater Baltimore Regional Integrated Crisis System Partnership, an initiative the two helped develop, became the recipient of a $45 million five-year grant to strengthen behavioral health crisis care.

No, you won’t get treatment in jail. A new website details the ‘broken record’ of incarceration in Ontario “I think a lot of people think you are going to be able to access services if you are incarcerated ... it sucks that that person went to jail but at least they are getting the help they need,” he said. “That’s just not true... I was flabbergasted.”

A focus on mental health, not more court orders, key to curbing homelessness U.S. District Judge David Carter is frustrated with the homelessness crisis. As the judge overseeing a lawsuit over L.A.’s failure to provide housing for downtown homeless residents, he has held a number of high-profile hearings at which he has attempted to pressure local officials to take action.

Agreement could end court oversight of mental health service An agreement between the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and advocates for people with psychiatric and mental health needs could end 30 years of court oversight of state mental health services. The 99-page decree laid out principles for the state to follow in treatment, patient rights and services.

Locally, demand up for mental health professionals Area police departments are all making efforts to beef up their staffs with mental-health professionals to assist officers on patrol, but it’s a process.  “The idea … is to have a co-responder model available when we have incidents as opposed to a social worker who does follow-up the next day,” Seraphin said. “To build something that big takes a while.”

New specialty court aims to help the mentally ill get treatment The 22nd Judicial District Court recently launched a specialty court called Assistive Outpatient Treatment Court, which aims to help people struggling with severe mental illness, histories of psychiatric hospitalizations and noncompliance with treatment. The court was started with a $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to cover its first three years of operation.

$4M grant awarded to Round Rock clinic for mental health services amid pandemic The grant will be used for the Expanding Medication-Assisted Treatment and Care Coordination Services Project to improve mental health services for high-risk populations. The funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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