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Mental health courts

A specialty court or court-based program provides supervision and community-based treatment and services in lieu of traditional justice system case processing for those with mental health needs.

For more information on this intervention, see these resources:
Local Examples

Bonneville County, ID Bonneville County Mental Health Court (MHC)

  • The MHC serves a rural jurisdiction.
  • Participants are typically high-risk, high-need, and have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor offense.
  • An assertive community treatment (ACT) model is used for all participants.
For more information on this example, see this resource:

Dougherty County, GA Dougherty County Mental Health Court (MHC)

  • The MHC is located in a small city and serves a large rural area.
  • Participants are referred both before and after adjudication, and typically have been charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor or felony.
  • Outcome evaluations are shared on a quarterly and annual basis with all court and community partners.
For more information on this example, see this resource:

Whatcom County, WA

  • The Whatcom County mental health court engages participants in mental health treatment and wraparound services to reduce their contact with the justice system and to promote their overall well-being.
  • Referrals are made through defense attorneys, and eligibility criteria include having a serious mental illness as defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; having current charges in Bellingham Municipal Court or Whatcom County; having high risk for further involvement in the justice system without treatment and support; and being motivated to engage in treatment and services.
  • The mental health court partners with community mental health agencies and substance use disorder programs for treatment and case management services as well as emergency shelter and housing for people exiting treatment and jail.
  • Each participant is assigned a probation officer and reports to court on a weekly or bimonthly basis.
  • In addition to mental health and substance use treatment, the mental health court consists of five phases following the Enhanced Illness Management and Recovery Model (EIMR): (1) committing to changes/getting connected; (2) developing a wellness plan; (3) practicing healthy life skills; (4) building social connections, support networks, and independence; and (5) giving back to the community and planning for the future.

For more information on this example, see this resource:

For more information on this example, contact Perry Mowery,

Multnomah County, OR

  • Qualifying diagnoses for participation in the mental health court include bipolar disorder; schizo-affective disorder; schizophrenia; or major depression, with other diagnoses considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Participants referred to the court include people newly placed on probation caseloads; people currently on probation caseloads who are supervised by the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice’s Mental Health Unit; people currently on unsupervised probation (bench probation) who are referred by the judge; and people with pending criminal charges.
  • People who are accepted into the mental health court are assigned a mental health court monitor, who meets regularly with participants and assists the participants with medication management, transportation, and accessing housing services.

For more information on this example, see this resource:




2 - Reduce length of stay
3 - Increase connection to treatment

Last updated: November 3, 2023