Can Mental Health Courts be Effective for Participants with Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders?

Mental Health Court

Can Mental Health Courts be Effective for Participants with Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders?

More recent research suggests that mental health courts can reduce jail days for those with co-occurring disorders

 

  • The first few studies to look at this issue suggested a decrease in effectiveness of mental health courts among participants with co-occurring substance use (see Cosden et al., 2005; Steadman et al., 2001).
  • However, a recent study by Lowder and colleagues (Lowder, Desmarais, & Baucom, 2016) found that mental health court participants with co-occurring substance use experienced greater decreases in jail days during their time in mental health court compared to participants without comorbid substance use problems.
  • Future research is needed to determine which elements of mental health court are effective in promoting positive change for clients with co-occurring disorders. Social scientists recommend screening and assessment for both psychiatric illness and substance use and a focus on integrated dual-diagnosis treatment.
References: 

Cosden, M., Ellens, J., Schnell, J., & Yamini-Diouf, Y. (2005). Efficacy of a mental health treatment court with assertive community treatment. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 23, 199–214. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bsl.638

Lowder, E.M., Desmarais, S.L., Baucom, D.J. (2016). Recidivism following mental health court exit: Between and within-group comparisons. Law and Human Behavior, 40, 118-127. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/lhb0000168

Steadman, H. J., Davidson, S., & Brown, C. (2001). Law & psychiatry: Mental health courts: Their promise and unanswered questions. Psychiatric Services, 52, 457–458. http://dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.52.4.457