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​Mental Health Court

Mental health courts in Michigan have been established since the late 2000s.  The State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) funded eight pilot mental health court programs from fiscal year 2009 through fiscal year 2013.  In fiscal year 2014, mental health courts expanded, totaling 20 active programs (17 adult and 3 juvenile), while several jurisdictions are in the planning stages.  Mental health court programs have reported favorable outcomes as cited in the Michigan Problem-Solving Courts Performance and Outcomes Report published by SCAO.  This report documents that 46 percent of participants successfully completed the program.  Of those that completed the program 36 percent improved their employment status, 47 percent improved their educational level, 95 percent improved their quality of life, 97 improved their mental health, and 84 percent were compliant with medication. Additionally, mental health court participants had a lower recidivism rate 12 months after admission into the program when compared to the comparison group members.  The recidivism rate for the mental health court participants was 4 percent, compared to the recidivism rate for the comparison group at 22 percent.  Even more telling, 4 years after admission, mental health court participants convicted of a new offense was 34 percent, while the comparison group members convicted of a new offense was 59 percent.
Mental health court is modeled after drug court and was developed in response to the overrepresentation of people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system.  Mental health court diverts select defendants with mental illness into judicially-supervised, community-based treatment.  Defendants are invited to participate following a specialized screening and assessment, and they may choose to decline participation.  For those who agree to the terms and conditions of community-based supervision, a team of court staff and mental health professionals work together to develop treatment plans and supervise participants in the community.  Participants appear at regular status hearings during which incentives are offered to encourage adherence to court conditions, sanctions for nonadherence are handed down, and treatment plans and other conditions are periodically reviewed for appropriateness (Council of State Governments, 2005).  [Huddleston & Marlowe, National Drug Court Institute and United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance, Painting the Current Picture: A National Report on Drug Courts and Other Problem-Solving Court Programs in the United States (July 2011, p 45).]
The concept of mental health court has been a topic of discussion since the mid l980s.  However, in l997 Broward County, Florida, was recognized and published as the first “specialized” mental health court.  Programs differ widely in eligibility criteria, the way cases are processed, the way treatment is provided, and the way cases are disposed upon discharge from the program.  There are numerous ways to structure a mental health court; however, a successful program requires partnership and collaboration between the local court and the community mental health services program.  Furthermore, grant-funded courts in Michigan are required to target individuals with a serious mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, or a developmental disability as defined by MCL 330.1100. For more information, see the subsection about the Michigan Mental Health Court Program.
*Mental health court overview adapted from A Guide to Mental Health Court Design and Implementation, a publication of the Council of State Governments prepared for the Bureau of Justice Assistance. May 2005.



Michigan Mental Health Court Grant Program

The State Court Administrative Office provides funding assistance to courts through its Michigan Mental Health Court Program.
Eligible applicants include trial courts partnering with the Community Mental Health Services Program (CMHSP) through a single joint application.  Applications must reflect a partnership and collaboration between the court and CMHSP.  Proposed programs must target individuals who have a serious mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, or a developmental disability as defined by MCL 330.1100, and the severe nature of the mental illness or functional impairment necessitates intensive clinical services.  Additionally, programs must commence postarraignment in order to meet the MMHCGP funding eligibility requirements.  Adult and juvenile programs are eligible for funding and are required to follow the Essential Elements of a Mental Health Court.

Regional Mental Health Court Grant Program

Grants are limited to jurisdictions that have completed a planning phase of their regional mental health court program and are seeking funds for the first year of operation.  The funds should enable the regional mental health court program to promote public safety, quickly identify and link participants to community services to reduce reliance on incarceration and recidivism among the mentally ill, and establish monitoring and evaluation measures that will demonstrate the effectiveness of the program.
Regional mental health courts are distinguished from other mental health courts by the number of geographically distinct jurisdictions participating in a single joint program.  Below are examples of regional mental health court designs.
  • Two or more circuit courts participating in a single regional mental health court.
  • Two or more district courts from different counties participating in a single regional mental health court.
  • One or more district courts and one or more circuit courts, from different counties, participating in a single regional mental health court.
Regional mental health courts receive one grant award and one contract, have one coordinator that oversees the entire region, and have one program design that is applicable to all participants in the regional mental health court, even if the regional mental health court has multiple locations.  The program must have one joint local administrative order covering all participating courts in the regional program and one memorandum of understanding covering all organizations.  Data collections and grant reporting should reflect the program as a whole, rather than reflecting separate locations of the program.  One set of grant reports should be submitted for the regional mental health court and one dashboard of data should be submitted to the State Court Administrative Office.



Michigan Mental Health Court Minimum Data Standards

Pursuant to MCL 600.1099, each mental health court is required to collect and provide data on each individual applicant and participant and the entire program as required by the State Court Administrative Office.  The SCAO has prepared the following minimum standard data sets.  The reported data will be used in preparing the annual Michigan Problem-Solving Courts Performance and Outcomes report.