What is Mental Health Court?
The Mental Health Court is intended to provide supervision and treatment options for individuals who struggle to stay out of the criminal justice system due to a lack of adequate community support or medication compliance.
Who is Eligible to Participate in Mental Health Court?
In order to qualify for participation in Mental Health Court, a person must have a clinical diagnosis of a serious mental disorder. Serious mental disorders include Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The most important thing to note about Mental Health Court is that this program is only open to those individuals who have clinical documentation such as psychiatric evaluations or psychological assessments that provide a formal diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Due to the waiting list to get into Mental Health Court, individuals who may be suffering from a mental disorder, but who have not been formally diagnosed will not be accepted into the program.
What are the Program Requirements?
Treatment in Mental Health Court will involve individual case management, individual medication management, counseling services, residential placement as needed, Random drug testing, and probation supervision as needed.
The length of the Mental Health Court program varies for each person based on individual needs, but on average, the program ranges from one to three years.
Other Facts to Know About Mental Health Court
Due to increased demand and limited funding, Mental Health Court is very difficult to be accepted into. Moreover, many individuals who have the requisite mental health diagnosis may also be disqualified because of the very narrow definition of mental illness under NRS 433.164. Nevada defines mental illness as a clinically significant disorder of thought, mood, perception, orientation, memory, or behavior which (1) is recognized in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) and (2) seriously limits the capacity of a person to function in the primary aspects of daily living, including personal relations, living arrangements, employment and recreation. This definition of mental illness makes it very difficult to gain acceptance into Mental Health Court.
For example, assume that Offender A suffers from bi-polar disorder, and seeks psychiatric care as well as counseling. As a result, Offender A maintains a household and employment. Then, one day, Offender A begins suffering from a particularly difficult bout of depression as a result of his or her bi-polar diagnosis, and as a result, winds up committing a crime. Further assume that Offender A has no prior criminal history. There is an overwhelming segment of the criminal justice community as well as the psychological, psychiatric, and medical community who could all agree that Offender A, who has no prior criminal history and has evidence on ongoing mental health treatment, is best suited for mental health court, not jail or prison. Yet, under NRS 433.164, Offender A will likely not qualify to participate in Nevada’s mental health court program because Offender A’s “clinically significant disorder” did not prevent him or her from conducting the functions of daily living.
In short, Mental Health Court is limited to those individuals who have the required clinical diagnosis, and who with medication treatment, can obtain the skills necessary to maintain the functions of daily living in the community.
If you or someone you know are facing criminal charges who may qualify for Mental Health Court, call us at 702-405-0001. The attorneys are The Wright Law Group, P.C. have more than 25 years of experience helping clients navigate the complexities of the criminal justice system. We can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your criminal case, and for those who qualify, help you get treatment through Mental Health Court.