Online Program

Improving the Impact of Mental Health Courts

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 11:10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Gary Cuddeback, PhD, Program on Mental Health Services Research, Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Stacey Burgin, M.A., School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Background/Purpose: Mental Health Courts have proliferated rapidly as a jail diversion strategy for persons with severe mental illnesses; however, low graduation rates and poor outcomes have been linked to substance use and limited service engagement. This presentation explores how Mental Health Courts might improve poor outcomes by combining judicial leverages with evidence-based interventions that address substance use and engagement with services. 

Methods: A study was conducted to assess the feasibility of: (i) implementing dual-diagnosis motivational interviewing in a mental health court; and (ii) implementing a randomized controlled trial in a mental health court setting.

Findings: Implementing Dual-Diagnosis Motivational Interviewing (DDMI) in a mental health court setting is feasible. Fidelity assessments and clinician ratings of DDMI implementation will be presented in addition to qualitative data collected from court staff about the implementation of the intervention. Implementing a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) of DDMI in a court setting is feasible. Recruitment and enrollment rates, follow-up rates, study enrollment rates and other metrics will be presented. Results from the RCT will be presented - the outcomes of court participants who received a court intake enhanced with DDMI will be compared to those who received a standard court intake.

Implications: Adding clinical interventions to Mental Health Courts will provide a new context for addressing engagement and substance use among justice-involved persons experiencing severe mental health symptoms.  With over 300 Mental Health Courts across the US, this research has the potential to have a broad public health and public safety impact. Implications for practice, policy and research will be discussed.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the barriers and facilitators of implementing DDMI in a MHC setting. Discuss the barriers and facilitators of implementing a RCT in a MHC setting.

Keyword(s): Mental Health, Criminal Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have over 10 years of experience as a mental health services research and have been Principal Investigator on numerous studies involving persons with severe mental illness, especially those who are involved in the criminal justice system.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.