Webinar: Mental Health Cases - Crisis and Opportunity for State and Local Trial Courts

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: Behavioral Health and Equity Ample evidence points to the inequities that exist in access to treatment, misdiagnoses for marginalized populations, an over-representation of minority communities in the justice system, and a lack of behavioral health providers of color. Treatment rates are the lowest for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).

Recommendation: Courts should develop and adopt a Behavioral Health and Equity statement as it relates to children, youth, and adults with behavioral health conditions and identify and implement evidence- based practices to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion across all programs and processes.

Courts should examine the disproportionate impact of behavioral health conditions and associated demographics such as race on the over-representation of individuals who enter the justice system and ensure that interventions, diversion systems, specialized dockets, and other programming are equitably applied.

Courts should actively collect and review race and ethnicity data in order to identify inequitable practices and to monitor progress in achieving equity. This analysis should extend to diversion to treatment placements.

Webinar: Mental Health Cases - Crisis and Opportunity for State and Local Trial Courts Join NCSC and the National Association of Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers (NAPCO) for a three-part mental health series that takes a closer look at how the nation’s mental health crisis is impacting courts and ways court leaders can respond.

The first installment, Mental Health Cases: Crisis and Opportunity for State and Local Trial Courts, will explore problems, challenges and strategies state and local trial court leaders need to know to improve the justice systems’ response to cases involving mental health disorders. Panelists will discuss the dimensions of our nation’s mental health crisis as it impacts trial courts, past and present mental health trends, difficulties caused by disjointed justice system silos, and the vital role court leaders play in spearheading effective solutions.

Research and Resources

The Sequential Intercept Model: Using Assisted Outpatient Treatment to Reduce the Need for Competency Restoration AOT is a tool that civil courts and mental health systems employ collaboratively to address non-adherence to treatment. AOT aims to motivate individuals with SMI to engage in treatment and ensure the MH system serves its most vulnerable clients. This SMI Advisor webinar recording focuses on how using AOT can impact The Ultimate Intercept- Best clinical practices in the community and Intercept II- Initial Detention and Initial Hearings, including how AOT can be used to reduce the need for hospital-based competency restoration. Note that viewers will need to create a free SMI Adviser account to access the webinar.

Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative Annual Leadership Summit 2023 The Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative (JPLI) is excited to host our third annual Leadership Summit on Thursday May 18, 2023. During this virtual presentation we will honor this years’ judge and psychiatrist with their Judge Stephen S. Goss Leadership awards and follow with a panel discussion. We look forward to you joining us to honor Judge Stephen S. Goss and those working to decriminalize mental health and substance use disorders in their communities.

HHS Announces Over $120 Million In Funding Opportunity for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics Providing Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Care Across the Country The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), announced two funding opportunities for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) expansion, totaling $123.6 million. The CCBHC Planning, Development, and Implementation (CCBHC-PDI) grant aims to assist clinics to establish and implement new CCBHC programs, and the CCBHC Improvement and Advancement (CCBHC–IA) grant seeks to enhance and support existing CCBHCs that currently meet the CCBHC Certification Criteria.

Deadlines Approaching FY23 Grant Solicitations BJA JustGrants: April 18; OJJDP Juvenile Grants.gov: May 9; OJJDP Juvenile JustGrants: May 22.

Supporting Improved Responses to People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Through a partnership with The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability and The Council of State Governments Justice Center, four Justice and Mental Health Collaboration grant programs received technical assistance and support to improve their responses to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Based on this assistance, four overarching themes emerged that can be used to guide other programs in their efforts to enhance responses to this population. This brief highlights those themes and gives an overview of each grantee’s program, including the work they have done with the help of this technical assistance.

Apply for Assistance to Implement First-of-Their-Kind National Risk and Needs Assessment Guidelines BJA and the CSG Justice Center invite state, local, and Tribal jurisdictions to apply for technical assistance (TA) to adopt the Advancing Fairness and Transparency: National Guidelines for Post-Conviction Risk and Needs Assessment. Sites will receive tailored TA based on their needs and goals for up to one year. By participating in this project, selected sites will have the opportunity to become national leaders in implementing cutting-edge strategies for improving the accuracy, fairness, transparency, and communication and use of post-conviction risk and needs assessments for adults.

Mental Health Care Shouldn’t Come in a Police Car There are police departments throughout the United States that no longer answer calls they believe could result in “suicide by cop.” Around 100 shootings like this happen each year, making up roughly 10% of fatal police shootings. The solution isn’t complicated. When a call goes into the Emergency Communication Center—911 dispatch—operators can be trained to triage those calls and identify whether the person in crisis is a danger to her or himself or an immediate threat to someone else.

Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders Through the Lens of Assisted Outpatient Treatment In our April webinar, Gary Tsai, M.D. will share his expertise on substance use disorders in the context of AOT. Director of Substance Abuse Prevention and Control at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Dr. Tsai oversees a full spectrum of substance use prevention, treatment, recovery, and support services. Dr. Tsai will highlight important considerations that providers, family members, and others should keep in mind when caring for loved ones with a dual diagnosis in an AOT program. This webinar will take place Thursday, April 20 at 3 pm Eastern.

Tackling the Behavioral Health Boarding Crisis One ED had been boarding a psychiatric patient for five months. You read that right: “We now have a patient who has been boarding with us for over 5 MONTHS with no end in sight,” the emergency physician wrote. Another said the ED had been boarding a 14-year-old girl for more than a month while awaiting inpatient psychiatric care. “Can you imagine being confined to a small room, without actually getting psychiatric care, for 42 days??? This could have been the subject of a Stephen King novel. Horrific,” the emergency physician wrote. Those examples came from a Nov. 7, 2022, letter that the American College of Emergency Physicians and 34 other medical societies sent to President Biden calling for collaboration on short- and long-term solutions to address ED boarding. The letter noted that “boarding of psychiatric patients in EDs is particularly prevalent, disproportionately affecting patients with behavioral health needs, who wait on average three times longer than medical patients because of significant gaps in our health care system.”

New NADCP E-Learning Courses Now Available NADCP's E-Learning Center is a dynamic online learning hub that provides self-paced training courses designed to be engaging and informative to practitioners at any experience level. All courses are FREE and led by renowned experts in the treatment court field. We just added two new courses on the Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards, Standard IV: Incentives, Sanctions, and Therapeutic Adjustments and Standards V: Substance Use Disorder Treatment.

In the News

How SAMHSA Is Tackling the Mental Health Workforce Shortage Improving the mental health workforce shortage is one of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's top priorities right now, said Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use at HHS and the administrator of SAMHSA. To tackle this, the organization has several resources and grant programs in place to recruit more providers and support primary care physicians in treating mental health.

Washington State Failed to Meet Mental Health Reform Goals Gov. Jay Inslee proposed a plan to “transform the state’s mental health system” by 2023, but the state has failed to meet its deadline and the repercussions are frustrating families, advocates, and law enforcement.

Should Courts Be Able to Mandate Psychiatric Care? Sasha Abramsky argues that court-mandated care connects unhoused individuals to supportive services, while Stefanie Lyn Kaufman-Mthimkhulu and Ruth Sangree write that psychiatric incarceration is cruel and ineffective.

Project seeks to keep Iowans with severe mental illnesses out of jails A new initiative will be launched in eastern Iowa next month, to try to keep Iowans with severe mental illnesses out of county jails and state prisons. Leslie Carpenter, co-founder of Iowa Mental Health Advocacy, is leading the pilot project. “In Johnson County we are developing the state’s first civil mental health court,” she says, “that will run in conjunction with a program called assisted outpatient treatment.”

Massachusetts weighs letting judges order mental health care A bill before Massachusetts lawmakers would let family members and mental health professionals ask courts to order outpatient mental health care for adults with a persistent mental illness and significant history of serious physical harm to themselves or others. The court would be allowed to order a personalized treatment plan, including a monthly assessment by a mental health professional to see if the person should remain in court-ordered community treatment.


Judicial Wellness The importance of lawyer and judicial well-being has been the subject of considerable attention and study in recent years – witness National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, entitled the 2017 Report “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change”, the 2019 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Steering Committee on Lawyer Well-Being Report, and the American Bar Association’s 2020 National Judicial Stress and Resiliency Survey. These studies and reports, and others in the same vein, demonstrate the direct link between the mental and physical health of those providing legal services and the quality of the services provided.

JWell Now - Creative Wellness for the Bench This month we take a look at how we can transform our vicarious trauma that we are exposed to on the bench and in our jobs every day. We see things and hear things and have to resolve things that most people do not even experience in their lifetime. Sometimes, the after-effects can be tricky and hard to navigate alone. We hold back from telling our partners, or friends, not only because of our ethical obligations, but also to spare them the emotion that comes up around our daily load. This month’s issue will offer you support in those times. We look at what vicarious trauma is, signs that you may be suffering from it and ways to find support around it.


COSCA logo

NCSC logo