Improving the Impact of Mental Health Courts

Gary Cuddeback, PhD, MSW, MPH , Principal Investigator
Joseph P Morrissey, PhD, Co-Investigator
Bradley Gaynes, MD, MPH, Co-Investigator
Shenyang Guo, PhD, Co-Investigator
Eric Elbogen, PhD, Co-Investigator

Mental health courts are one of the most widely disseminated strategies for diverting the large and growing number of persons with severe mental illness from the criminal justice system into community-based treatment. Little is known about how these courts engage their participants and there have been no randomized studies of interventions in mental health courts settings, especially interventions that target substance use. The purpose of this three-year feasibility study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health is to adapt and pilot test dual diagnosis motivational interviewing for local mental health court participants who have co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders. With over 250 mental health courts in the U.S., the integration of dual diagnosis motivational interviewing within mental health court settings will provide a new context for addressing substance use for justice-involved persons with severe mental illness, further enhancing the broad public health and public safety significance of our research agenda.