This Special Interest Group operates under the umbrella of, and with the support of, the IAFMHS. We are a group interested in better addressing the problems associated with mentally ill individuals entering the criminal justice system. Two of the main vehicles established by the criminal justice system to deal with this population are Mental Health Courts and Diversion Programs. Both of these come in many different shapes and sizes.
The general expansion of interest in a specialized judicial process to deal with mentally disordered accused, and increased writings and research in the area, lead us to the conclusion that the association should create an international forum dedicated to mental health courts. As we are well into the second decade since the establishment of the first mental health courts and as the proliferation of mental health courts and diversion programs continues at an impressive pace it was decided at the Vienna Conference in 2008 that the time had come to create a forum where issues surrounding mental health courts and diversion programs may be discussed and ideas exchanged.
Considerable work has already been done in this regard in the United States by, for example, the Consensus Project, reflecting the rapid growth of mental health courts throughout the US. A number of Canadian mental health courts have been established, and many others are in the planning phase. Mental health courts are a subject of considerable interest in Australia. The system in the UK centres on diversion, which appears to be the key focus of service delivery for most US mental health courts. At present our group has members from the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Germany, Holland, and Sweden. We encourage more to join us.
Annual IAFMHS Conference
We facilitate the proposal of presentations and workshops to the IAFMHS Conference Committee that may be of interest to our members. Additionally, we hold an informal SIG meeting at each annual IAFMHS conference, which is typically preceded by conference sessions of interest to our members. Finally, for the past two IAFMHS meetings, we have organized off-site visits to local diversion programs operating in the host city. All members are welcome to join in these excursions!
If you are interested in connecting with the Mental Health Court and Diversion Programs Special Interest Group, please contact the Coordinator to be added to the group’s listerv. The listserv provides an opportunity for members to share resources, receive feedback on potential projects, and maintain ties to the broader community of practitioners and researchers working in this area.
Coordinator: Evan Lowder firstname.lastname@example.org
Education Committee: Bruce Kennedy email@example.com