Mental Health Diversion and Court Support
In general, mental health diversion programs take one of three forms: (a) police pre-arrest, or pre-booking diversion; (b) court diversion and; (c) mental health courts (MHCs). Arrest diversion allows the police to use their discretion in laying charges. Court diversion programs, on the other hand, are post-booking, pre-arraignment programs that involve staying charges for eligible offenses if the person agrees to treatment. In addition to the mentally ill defendant and her or his family, MHCs involve a dedicated judge, crown, defence, and court support worker (CSW). Characteristics of MHCs include: (a) all identified mentally ill defendants are handled in a single court/docket, (b) the use of a collaborative team which includes a clinical specialist who recommends and makes linkages to treatment, (c) assurance of availability of appropriate clinical placement prior to the judge making a ruling, and (d) specialised court monitoring with possible sanctions for noncompliance (Steadman, Davidson & Brown, 2001).
For a complete listing of diversion and court support services, see Mental Health Helpline’s mental health services in Ontario directory.
Source: Dr. Kathleen Hartford et al., ‘Evidence-Based Practices in Diversion Programs for Persons with Serious Mental Illness Who Are in Conflict with the Law’ (September 2004)