Without active engagement, many adults with serious mental illnesses remain untreated in the community and commit criminal offenses, resulting in their placement in the jails rather than mental health facilities. A mental health treatment court (MHTC) with an assertive community treatment (ACT) model of case management was developed through the cooperative efforts of the criminal justice and mental health systems. Participants were 235 adults with a serious mental illness who were booked into the county jail, and who volunteered for the study. An experimental design was used, with participants randomly assigned to MHTC or treatment as usual (TAU), consisting of adversarial criminal processing and less intensive mental health treatment. Results were reported for 6 and 12 month follow-up periods. Clients in both conditions improved in life satisfaction, distress, and independent living, while participants in the MHTC also showed reductions in substance abuse and new criminal activity. Outcomes are interpreted within the context of changes brought about in the community subsequent to implementation of the MHTC.
Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.