Mental Health Diversion is an official Council of State Governments Mental Health Court Learning Site that provides alternative-to-incarceration court monitoring services for defendants with serious mental health issues involved in the criminal justice system who may or may not suffer from a co-occurring substance use disorder.
Clients Served Last Year:
Zoe Turner, Ph.D.
Individuals with mental illness are over-represented in the criminal justice system and have other risk factors that make them more susceptible to being re-arrested. Jails and prisons often do not provide consistent, appropriate mental health and substance abuse treatment and traditional court models do not allow for a more individualized approach necessary for clients with serious mental health issues. As a result, these individuals are more likely to cycle through re-arrest and re-incarceration.
Divert eligible offenders out of the criminal justice system and provide them with case management and treatment in order to aid in their recovery and reduce recidivism.
How We Do it:
Based on individualized treatment plans, Mental Health Diversion addresses individuals’ mental health needs by increasing linkages to community treatment. Specifically, risk factors such as substance abuse, employment, education, leisure activities, social support, or criminogenic thinking are addressed and if needed, psychological assessments may involve psychological testing for diagnostic clarification (including an assessment of intellectual disabilities) and a violence risk assessment. In addition, Mental Health Diversion provides clinically-informed case management and monitoring for the courts, reporting participants’ progress on a regular basis through their mandate.
The Outcomes of Mental Health Diversion
Individuals’ needs and risk factors are specifically addressed so they can receive proper treatment and other ancillary services needed to recover from addiction and/or mental illness, which results in a decrease of recidivism.
What People Say About Mental Health Diversion
Upon George’s initial charge and referral, he was in denial of his substance use and was arrested for multiple petty larceny charges. He began working with us and had a difficult start, having been rearrested while in treatment with us. However, after this particular arrest, he opened up to his case manager, and admitted to his crack addiction and past heroin abuse. After this point, and with the support of his case manager, he was able to enter an intensive outpatient treatment program for substance use and mental health. Since that time, he has been succeeding in all aspects of his program, testing negative for all substances and has not been rearrested. In addition, he has reengaged with his family and has plans to be more involved in the relationship with his daughter.