We Need to Do Better

We need to do better.

We are serving our mentally ill citizens justice by giving them the bare minimum of treatment and then releasing them back into society.

            We need to do better.

Just because they received treatment for a certain period doesn’t mean we should expect them to be fully recovered without further assistance.

            We need to do better.

When are we going to wake up and realize that these mental health courts that have been set in place just simply aren’t doing what they intended?

In the late 1980s, mental health courts were introduced were introduced in the United States as an alternative to a prison sentence for offenders who suffered from various mental disorders. These were created for those who were thought to better benefit from medical and professional treatment as opposed to being sat in a cell. This alternative was supposed to be beneficial for the offender and their family, the community, and society. However, there have been major downfalls with this with no major improvements to be seen in our near future.

Individuals diverted to mental health courts, while receiving treatment during their time there, and leaving with no additional help. This is where we see recidivism spike in these people. There is a serious lack of continuance of treatment of these programs once these individuals are released from them leaving them nowhere to turn except to old habits (Slate & Johnson, 2008). Furthermore, there is a lack to co-occurring services for certain disorders (Slate & Johnson, 2008). Resources are of the essences for the individuals. In fact, some reports suggest that mental health courts may divert individuals from jail or prison, but they do not solve the systematic problems that cause people with mental illnesses to be arrested and incarcerated in disproportionate numbers (Bazelon Center, 2016). Therefore, they may be helped but then thrown right in jail again. We know that mental health is a major crisis in the country so why, is this day and age, are we having this much difficulty in attaining the necessary tools to help these people? There are serious flaws in our system, clearly. We are not doing justice by the individuals who need mental health help. Helping these people helps them and the community. This needs to stop. We need to do better.


Bazelon Center (2016). Examining mental health courts. Present Bazelon Center. https://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/examining-mental-health-courts

Slate, R. N., & Johnson, W. W. (2008). The criminalization of mental illness. Mental health courts (p. 131-176, Chapter 5). Carolina Academic Press.

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  1. Wow! Very interesting post, Molly!

    We do need to do better in helping those with mental illnesses. It is sad to see how these individuals are essentially “disposed” of once they are released from prison. Those who need mental health treatment needs to continue afterwards in order to reduce the rate of recidivism. But those in the system do not want to help. Why? Funding? Lack of support? Lack of belief? What is the reasoning?

    Very well done!

  2. Great post, Molly! I could not agree more with your point on recidivism. I liked how you mentioned that mental health is a major crisis in this country, and since that is the case, more resources should be available to those struggling.

  3. Fantastic work. We need to do better and these people deserve better. We feel we are doing them a service by avoiding incarceration but we really are not. It is heartbreaking.

    1. We need to actually help them instead of just thinking we are. They need professional help and easy access to it.

  4. This is a very powerful post! I think you chose the best format to get your emphasis across with the “we need to do better” lines. I can’t agree more that this is a very important topic as even though the education is out there many don’t receive it!

  5. This blog was wonderfully designed and sent a clear and powerful message. You are 100% correct. We absolutely need to better. And just creating mental health courts is not enough, as you pointed out. There needs to be some sort of continuance with services once these programs ends because as we have seen, people will revert back to their own ways because that’s the only way they know how to get through life. Amazing job with this post!

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