Behavioral Health Resource Hub

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 resources for courts and our partner stakeholders. Each Behavioral Health Alerts revisits an original Task Force resource or a new resource that supports a Task Force recommendation.

Behavioral Health Resource Hub The Behavioral Health Resource Hub is intended to be a curated collection of resources courts and communities can turn to for the latest in best practices. The resources under the Criminal Justice section build on the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) which identifies appropriate responses at particular intercepts that can keep an individual from continuing to penetrate the criminal justice system. Additionally, effective court and community responses require interventions prior to engagement in the criminal justice system. Additionally, there are sections devoted to civil responses and other areas of community focus. The Resource Hub has been recently updated with new resources.

Task Force Recommendations Implementation - Resources and News

Burke Commissioner and NCACC President to Examine Florida Jail Diversion Program A delegation of state officials led by a Burke County commissioner will be heading to Florida later this month to learn about its jail diversion initiative and whether something similar might work in North Carolina. Carswell said the group was invited down to Florida to see how a long-established program works and to see whether the diversionary program could be used in Burke County and potentially throughout North Carolina.

Decriminalizing Mental Illness: Adapting the “Miami Model” to Nevada Every lawyer in Nevada saw the video – the one where the defendant ran, jumped, and flew over the bench to assault Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Mary Kay Holthus. It garnered national news and even a “Saturday Night Live” skit. But the back story of that defendant, Deobra Redden, isn’t funny at all. It is tragically common for people with serious mental illness (SMI) to struggle when they interface with our criminal justice system. With those challenges in mind, we recently joined a delegation of judges and representatives from law enforcement, Clark County Social Services, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office, and the Public Defender’s Office for a conference hosted by the National Center for State Courts to learn about one successful model for better addressing the needs of those with mental health concerns. With a coordinated effort, Nevada has an unprecedented opportunity to implement a proven model to better serve the needs of those with mental health issues, bringing the best of Miami to the Silver State.

The Miami Model As WFAE has been reporting in the series, “Fractured,” locking up defendants with serious mental illness can make their mental health worse. It’s expensive, and it's often not very effective at reducing crime. If former inmates don’t get treatment when released, they’re likely to get arrested again. But in Miami, Florida, public officials have been managing defendants with mental illness very differently. A lot of places are paying attention, including North Carolina. The program is the brainchild of Miami-Dade Judge Steve Leifman, although he wouldn’t call it that. He’d say he’s just applying what’s been shown to work. It’s grown out of his decades-long mission to completely restructure the way the county’s criminal justice system handles mental illness.

Research and Resources

Juvenile Treatment Provider Training Presented in partnership with the American Society of Addiction Medicine, this training is designed for addiction treatment professionals working with adolescent clients in treatment courts and other justice interventions. Professionals both new and advanced will learn evidence-based methods for the effective treatment of justice-involved adolescents with substance use disorders. Continuing education hours are available.

The Community Courts Initiative: Justice That Prioritizes Prevention, Not Punishment The Southwest Detroit Community Court—and the few dozen other community courts around the country—are neighborhood-focused court programs that combine the power of the community and the justice system to address local problems. This innovative approach reduces recidivism and increases overall public safety while being responsive to the needs of local communities. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) supports innovative programs like the Southwest Detroit Community Court through its Community Court Initiative (CCI), a two-year-old grant program that is open to state, local, and tribal governments across the United States. Since 2022, BJA has awarded $8.3 million in CCI grants to 10 community courts across the country. In fiscal year 2024, BJA is making $9 million available to potential CCI grantees.

National Treatment Court Month Each year, the treatment court community comes together to celebrate National Treatment Court Month. This is All Rise’s annual opportunity to share successes, educate the public, and engage elected officials. The All Rise National Treatment Court Month Toolkit is a guide to making May a success. Inside the toolkit is a wealth of information and samples on ways to bring attention to treatment programs while keeping their staff and participants safe and healthy.

Register for May Webinar: Supported Employment in AOT When asked about their recovery goals, many assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) participants mention wanting to work. Employment can play a significant role in recovery. In addition to confidence, relationship-building, and increased independence, some AOT participants make a connection between gaining and maintaining employment and treatment adherence. May's webinar will focus on the importance of advancing AOT participants' employment goals by highlighting the partnership between AOT provider Georgia Pines and their supported employment partner, AmericanWork.

Ask the Expert: Embedded Mental Health Clinicians in Probation For this session in the Ask the Expert Series, The Virginia Department of Corrections Community Corrections program, a national Criminal Justice Mental Health learning site, will be discussing their Community Corrections Mental Health Program. This program has taken an innovative approach to addressing the mental health needs of people on state community supervision in the commonwealth by embedding full-time mental health staff within their probation and parole districts. Presenters from the Community Mental Health and Wellness team will discuss how these positions were established, the role of regional and district mental health clinicians in consultation with probation officers, and lessons learned since the implementation of the program in 2017. Hosted by The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Addressing Substance Use Disorder Among BIPOC Communities BJA’s Access and Recovery Peer Recovery Support Services Training and Technical Assistance Center, Altarum, will be hosting a webinar focused on the unique needs and traits of the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities who interact with substance use treatment and recovery systems. The webinar seeks to foster diversity and inclusion by providing a platform for panelists to share their knowledge and experiences. This webinar hopes to provoke discussion, support, and advocacy for the challenges that the BIPOC community faces in the addiction treatment and recovery space across intercepts.

CSG Justice Briefing Law Enforcement-Behavioral health partnership expands; Access to Housing; Reentry council uplifts prison education; Transforming policy through 988; and more.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $46.8 Million in Behavioral Health Funding Opportunities to advance President Biden’s Unity Agenda as Part of May Mental Health Awareness Month Funding to be awarded will support youth mental health, the behavioral health care workforce, substance use treatment and recovery, integrated health care solutions, and training and technical assistance.

In the News

America’s Age-Old Mental Health Crisis Each time a new statistic is released regarding the state of mental illness diagnoses, addictions to drug or alcohol, overdoses, suicide attempts, and completed suicides, it is followed by a call for a “new appreciation” of these illnesses, a “paradigm shift.” But part of the paradigm that needs to shift is the idea that these are new problems. If there is anything truly new about them, it is how much incrementally worse they have gotten because we have not done enough as a society to address them.

Mississippi Lawmakers Move to Limit the Jail Detentions of People Awaiting Mental Health Treatment Right now, anyone going through the civil commitment process can be jailed if county officials decide they have no other place to hold them. House Bill 1640, which Gov. Tate Reeves signed Wednesday, would limit the practice. It says people can be jailed as they go through the civil commitment process only if they are “actively violent” and for a maximum of 48 hours. It requires the mental health professional who recommends commitment to document why less-restrictive treatment is not an option. And before paperwork can be filed to initiate the commitment process, a staffer with a local community mental health center must assess the person’s condition.

People With Severe Mental Illness Are Stuck in Jail. Montgomery County is the Epicenter of the Problem. The revelation came in a court hearing last week as a Baltimore County judge slapped the Maryland Department of Health with $608,000 in sanctions over continuing delays in creating enough bed space in its psychiatric hospitals. The bed shortage — a long-standing problem that has reached record levels over the last year — means that people with severe mental illness are in jail long after judges order them into advanced psychiatric care. State law sets a 10-day deadline for such transfers, but often those defendants are languishing for months. In his view, judges in Montgomery County have become more tuned into a national conversation about the criminalization of behaviors that are driven more by mental health issues than by intention to break the law. “I think the judiciary is largely saying, ‘If I can identify a mental health issue, let’s direct that person toward treatment, because incarceration is not the best option for that person,’” he said.

“Competency Dockets” at Colorado Courts Are Linking People With Mental Illness to Community-based Services “The spirit of competency dockets started to get everyone in the same room to discuss significant mental health issues such as dementia and intellectual disabilities and to pull together resources in the community to help them get away from the court system, or if they go through it, to give them resources, so they don’t return,” said Amanda Myers, criminal justice programs unit manager at the state court administrator’s office. The model is so promising, 10 Colorado judicial districts and Denver County Court have launched similar speciality courts. The goal is to help participants get community-based services as often as possible and the court aims to reduce recidivism while also improving public safety.

Maryland Enacts a “Draconian” Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program Maryland’s 2024 legislative session took place against the backdrop of policy changes favoring mandated treatment in New York and California. As with California’s proposals, this year the demand came from the top, with Maryland’s newly-elected Democratic governor Wes Moore making AOT a central part of his legislative agenda soon after election. Advocates immediately found the broad eligibility criteria alarming. Those with a “history of treatment nonadherence” who have had two hospitalizations, even voluntarily, within three years; or have self-harmed or attempted self-harm; or attempted suicide or an act of harm to others; or have made credible threats of harm to others during a three-year “lookback” period, would be deemed eligible for the program. Under these criteria, “Essentially anybody with a mental illness could be put into AOT,” Maryland attorney Courtney Bergan said.

State Leaders Agree Behavioral Health a Top Bipartisan Concern in 2024 28 governors prioritize improving mental health and substance use disorder care systems in year-opening addresses. Fortunately, recent months have seen growing bipartisan momentum among state leaders to invest in behavioral health care. A review by The Pew Charitable Trusts shows that 28 governors identified behavioral health as a priority in their State of the State addresses in early 2024.

NYC Council Calls for Budget Restorations and Greater Investments in Programs to Address Recidivism, Mental Health and Keep New Yorkers Safe Ahead of Public Safety Executive Budget Hearing There are several programs that face cuts or inadequate funding which the Council prioritized in its Preliminary Budget Response but were left out of the Mayor’s FY25 Executive Budget. These include:

  • Mental Health Courts and Diversion Programs
  • 15/15 Supportive Housing and Justice-Involved Supportive Housing
  • Alternatives to Incarceration, Supervised Release and Re-entry Programming
  • Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) teams
  • Trauma Recovery Centers
  • Community Justice Centers


Another Look at Lawyer Mental Health, Five Years Later Exactly five years ago I wrote a piece focused on lawyer mental health. Since May is mental health awareness month and the first week of May is Well-Being in the Law Week, I am revisiting the topic to see if anything has changed. What about attorney mental health? According to the 2023 ALM and Compass Mental Health Survey of the Legal Profession, 49% of respondents felt that mental health problems and substance use were at a “crisis level” in the legal industry. This is up from 41% in 2019. Study after study has proven that there must be change. That change starts at the individual level, but it must also continue to work its way to the industry level, to the law firms, the courts, and the law schools, for lasting change to take hold in the profession.

Lead by Example: Prioritize Your Self-care It’s easy to feel mentally exhausted these days, in a world that demands so much of our time, energy and focus. Left unaddressed, this exhaustion can lead to worsening mental health. This week’s Way Forward for Mental Health Awareness Month is to prioritize your self-care. In doing so, you can set an example for others, while putting yourself on a path toward wellness.

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