What do social workers need to know about mental health courts?

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Mental health courts are an emerging strategy to engage mentally ill offenders in treatment and to avoid unnecessary incarceration. These courts began in 1997 based upon the drug court model; there are currently over 70 courts nationwide. These courts are heterogeneous in structure, work with interdisciplinary teams, and seek to engage the consumer in treatment rather than use judicial sanctions. Social workers are integral members of these teams; yet, no research has been published in social work journals on mental health courts. This article explains the background and context of the courts, describes their features, discusses what social workers need to know about mental health courts, and concludes with ideas for how social workers may work effectively with mental health courts. © 2005 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Social Work in Mental Health

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