Implementation of the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts' Response to Mental Illness Report and Recommendations
The Task Force made a number of important findings, with corresponding recommendations, supported by over 100 new resources for courts and our partner stakeholders. Going forward each Behavioral Health Alerts will revisit a Task Force recommendation and an accompanying resource.
Finding: Training and Education There is a lack of education and training for state court judges and court professionals necessary to equip them with the knowledge, data, research, and resources they need to improve the state courts’ response to court-involved individuals with mental illness. Judges and court personnel are not trained in mental health conditions, substance use disorders, or co-occurring disorders, nor are they trained in the pervasiveness of trauma and how to be trauma responsive. They lack understanding and knowledge about how behavioral health needs impact all court dockets, ways that judges can improve outcomes for individuals with behavioral health needs while improving public safety, and the unique role of a judge as a leader for positive change.
Recommendation: All judges, court personnel, and justice system partners should be provided collaborative ongoing training and education across all case types utilizing Task Force Education Resources, including Trauma and Trauma-Informed Responses, the Behavioral Health Resource Hub, Behavioral Health Alerts, and other national educational offerings. A broad array of specific topics, as identified in the CCJ/ COSCA Resolution, must be included in ongoing training curricula as well as for new judges and new court personnel.
Research and Resources
Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Planning, Development, and Implementation Grant The purpose of this program is to transform community behavioral health systems and provide comprehensive, coordinated behavioral health care by: (a) assisting organizations in the planning for and development and implementation of a new CCBHC that meets the CCBHC Certification Criteria (b) providing a comprehensive range of outreach, screening, assessment, treatment, care coordination, and recovery supports based on a needs assessment that aligns with the CCBHC Certification Criteria, and (c) supporting recovery from mental illness and/or substance use disorders (SUD) by providing access to high-quality mental health and SUD services, regardless of an individual’s ability to pay.
HHS Awards CCBHC Planning Grants to 15 States to Help Address Ongoing Mental Health Crisis The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), today awarded 15 states each with $1 million, one-year Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) planning grants. The 15 states selected are Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia. In 2024, up to 10 of those will participate in the CCBHC Medicaid demonstration program and receive enhanced Medicaid reimbursement.
NACo Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing Launched in February 2023, the NACo Commission on Mental Health and Wellbeing brings together county leaders from across the nation to take action to address the ever-growing mental health crisis from the county government perspective. This new webpage now serves as a hub for Commission materials and resources.
Improving Care Transitions for Justice-Involved Populations More than 600,000 people are released from prison and nine million return to their communities from jails each year. Individuals released from incarceration face a greater burden of physical and behavioral health conditions and are at heightened risk of death when compared to the general population. The following upcoming and recent webinars explore promising opportunities to improve access to care and services for people returning to the community from jails and prisons: Transitions Clinic Network Model: Integrating Community Health Workers into Primary Care to Support Individuals with a History of Incarceration, and CMS Opens Door for Pre-Release Services for Justice-Involved Populations: Health Care and Justice System Implications.
CSG Justice Briefing This edition includes an invitation to attend the Judge Stephen S. Goss Memorial Awards, and a registration link for an upcoming webinar Understanding the Expanded Risk-Need-Responsivity Model, Supervision, Programming, and Dosage.
CSG Justice Briefing Enhancing responses to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; federal agencies convene law enforcement and behavioral health leaders to discuss shared opportunity of 988; Implementing Forensic Peer Services in Reentry, Housing Financing Basics for Criminal Justice Partners, and more.
Severe mental illness and pregnancy outcomes in Australia. A population-based study of 595 792 singleton births Women with Severe Mental Illness (SMI) may have more complex pregnancies and pregnancy outcomes that require different care and management, but this has not been extensively studied. The aim of this study was to explore associations between SMI and adverse maternal and infant outcomes in the state of Victoria, Australia. Conclusion: Women with SMI are at higher risk for a range of adverse maternal and infant outcomes and are a population that may benefit from targeted early identification and enhanced antenatal care.
Psychological First Aid and Workplace Mental Health Psychological First Aid (PFA) is a vital aspect of crisis management and preventing workplace violence. If we want to promote Total Worker Health (TWH) programs and truly care for our workers, we must prioritize their mental health and ensure they are fit for duty, especially in roles that require safety-sensitive positions. During this webinar, we will delve into the fundamental principles of PFA and explore how it aligns with TWH and the Americans with Disabilities Act in both on-the-job and off-duty scenarios.
Webinar: Treatment Considerations in the Age of Fentanyl Fentanyl and other high-potency synthetic opioids are increasingly present in the U.S. drug supply. Healthcare systems, treatment providers, and justice systems are grappling with the physiological consequences of chronic fentanyl use and how its use may impact treatment. Presenters will discuss practical clinical practice-based guidance on treating opioid use disorder in the age of fentanyl, the use of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) in the treatment of individuals using fentanyl, and other considerations and challenges.
2023 Police, Treatment, and Community Collaborative’s (PTACC) National Deflection and Pre-arrest Diversion Summit The 2023 Police, Treatment, and Community Collaborative’s (PTACC) National Deflection and Pre-arrest Diversion Summit is taking place from October 3–6 in beautiful Denver, Colorado. On days one and two (October 3–4), attendees will be able to learn from and engage with experts and practitioners in the field through educational sessions. Presentations and panels will deliver the latest information and strategies relating to deflection and pre-arrest diversion nationally and internationally. On days three and four (October 5–6), PTACC will provide one-on-one support to teams who are interested in developing, revising, and expanding deflection initiative action plans. New this year will be the addition of special sessions for those not partaking in action planning, including communities of practice, peer-to-peer networking, and deflection leadership meetings. More information on these sessions will be announced in the following months.
Reimagining Justice With this podcast, the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health brings you an inside look at the individuals working to improve the lives of those at the intersection of mental health and justice in our state. Join us as we sit down with Texas mental health stakeholders and delve into their personal stories, experiences, and insights in the field. Listen in as we highlight their work and initiatives aimed at advancing mental health support and addressing the challenges in the criminal justice system
The Perfect Storm: Substance Abuse, Mental Illness, and Rural America Across the United States in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, substance abuse and mental illness have clashed with the criminal justice system to produce inequitable and tragic results. The War on Drugs especially affects rural communities, where resources for rehabilitative services, mental health treatment, and transitional housing are scarce. In these areas, the significant strain on the criminal justice system caused by the frequent intersection of substance abuse and mental illness has wrought overcrowded correctional facilities, congested criminal court dockets, exhausted public defenders, and devastated families. This Article is a case study of one such rural community's experience with the confluence of substance abuse and mental illness.
County Funding Opportunities to Support Community Members Experiencing a Behavioral Health Crisis County and local officials play a critical role in funding, implementing and coordinating a local continuum of care to support people during a behavioral health crisis. To inform local decision making, the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors (NACBHDD) developed a chart of funding opportunities across federal, state and county governments and non-government sectors. Counties can blend and braid these resources to build a robust, accessible and sustainable behavioral health crisis continuum of care.
Behavioral Health and the Court Funding Opportunities Periodically NCSC identifies funding opportunities relevant to courts. This link lists current grants available in the behavioral health arena.
In the News
California looks to spend some Medicaid money on housing For decades, Medicaid would only pay for medical expenses. But last year the Biden administration gave Arizona and Oregon permission to use Medicaid money for housing — a nod to reams of research showing people in stable housing are healthier. Now California wants to join those states. Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed spending more than $100 million per year in the state’s Medicaid program to pay for up to six months of housing for people who are or risk becoming homeless; are coming out of prison or foster care; or are at risk for hospitalization or emergency room visits.
How some police, attorneys, and jails are trying to help Pa.’s ailing system for mentally ill people A decades-old Pennsylvania law is supposed to protect people with mental health issues from prosecution if they cannot understand the legal system and cannot aid in their own defense, but a recent investigation found that instead, that very system often traps them in jail. The six-month investigation found the state’s “competency” review system is so broken it often extends incarceration, which can exacerbate mental health issues.
Building caring communities in Indiana requires fully funding mental health infrastructure According to the Indiana Courts, up to 80% of people in Indiana jails struggle with their mental health or substance use. This legislative session, Indiana’s General Assembly has the blueprint and the opportunity to transform our mental health infrastructure and make the lives of Hoosier families better. In Fall 2022 the Indiana Behavioral Health Commission released a report documenting the ways mental health impacts Indiana and provides a blueprint for a new system of care that will save lives and money. The report suggests that Indiana creates a full system of care for Hoosiers in times of crisis: someone to call, someone to come to their home for care, and a safe place to go where they can get the support and resources they need. However, the Indiana General Assembly has not yet allocated any funding for this new system. The mere $130 million dollars to fully fund the legislation has the potential to save the public over $4 billion dollars.
Yakima County's mental health tax revenue could boost law and justice services A previous board of Yakima County Commissioners approved the 0.1% sales tax in 2019 in effort to combat homelessness. Revenue from the tax can be used on projects that provide mental health and substance abuse services. A bulk of Yakima County’s mental health tax could be spent on law and justice services, according to a recent proposal. The proposal calls for spending more than $1.8 million on programs in the department of corrections and the courts, with an additional $2 million to fund outside services supporting the courts and law enforcement. That would total nearly $3.9 million — about 70% of what the tax is expected to generate annually.
A Minnesota family's desperate search for care reveals state's mental health crisis Insurance reimbursement rates — coupled with constraints on staffing and hospital beds — limit options for psychiatric patients, including children. "The payment models don't make it possible to invest in inpatient mental health and get any kind of meaningful return, which means you can't recruit and attract the [mental health] providers and professionals you need to staff the units," said Fromm, who previously served as CFO at Fairview Health Services, the state's largest inpatient mental health provider.
How the Justice System Fails Those with Mental Illness In Connecticut, where I live, the DOC describes itself as, “striving to be a leader in progressive and partnered re-entry initiatives to support responsive evidence-based practices geared toward supporting reintegration and reducing recidivism.” The department, however, does not appear to be achieving this goal; the most recent documented recidivism rate is 79%. This failure is not surprising to me, based on my experience with my son who is incarcerated in the state. He was a senior in high school and experienced an acute episode of psychosis. Despite the fact that he has not been found guilty of a crime, he has spent the last four years languishing, without any productive uses for his time, in a cell the size of a parking space.
A Lot of Thought, Little Action: Proposals About Mental Health Go Unheeded Thousands of people struggle to access mental health services in Florida. The treatment system is disjointed and complex. Some residents bounce between providers and are prescribed different medications with clinicians unaware of what happened. Jails and prisons have become de facto homes for many who need care. These problems and more were identified in a scathing report released earlier this year by the Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. What’s most troubling about the group’s findings? They aren’t new. More than 20 years ago, the Florida Legislature set up a commission with the same name to examine the same issues and publish recommendations on how to improve mental health care in the publicly funded system.
Why we need to rethink policing in mental health crises As the troubling data continues to mount, it becomes increasingly clear that the intersection of mental health and policing is a deadly one — especially if you are Black or brown. Instead of safely addressing mental health crises, police involvement often leads to injury and death. People experiencing a mental health crisis need to be met with support and care, and not excessive force and violence. If we don’t take immediate action to divert mental health crisis calls away from police and toward trained mental health professionals, we will continue to see young Black men and women in this country become hashtags instead of elders.
New Mexico Judicial Wellness Program The New Mexico Judicial Wellness Program promotes and optimizes health and wellness among New Mexico Judges by creating and facilitating educational programs and offering resources and services which provide a supportive environment for our judiciary in order to restore and maintain ones overall mental, physical, and spiritual health. Resources and a description of the program are linked here.
Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) Wellness Connect Newsletter The AOIC Mental Wellness Initiative was launched in June 2022 to educate employees on mental health and wellness in the workplace. The AOIC Wellness Committee was then formed to engage employees in opportunities to build skills in mental health and wellness. Currently, seven Wellness Hours have been offered to AOIC employees, along with a variety of resources to support well-being. It is our hope to help end the stigma of mental health in the workplace and to ensure a work culture of acceptance, assistance, and well-being for our employees.
Mental Health Matters: A Series of National Online Dialogues on Workforce Mental Health Policies Conversation and ideas shared during this four-part virtual crowdsourcing event will build upon the work of the Mental Health Matters: National Task Force on Workforce Mental Health Policy, convened by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy’s (ODEP) State Exchange on Employment & Disability (SEED) initiative.
US push to end lawyer mental health disclosures extends to New Jersey Law school graduates should not be required to disclose personal mental health information when applying to become lawyers in New Jersey, according to the New Jersey State Bar Association and the state’s two law schools. The bar this month asked the Supreme Court of New Jersey to eliminate question 12B from a mandatory "character and fitness" questionnaire that asks all applicants whether they have any conditions affecting their ability to practice law, including substance abuse or a “mental, emotional or nervous disorder or condition," and whether they are seeking treatment.