Recognition and understanding of goals and roles: The key internal features of mental health court teams

Int J Law Psychiatry. 2011 Nov-Dec;34(6):406-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2011.10.005. Epub 2011 Nov 8.


The increasing involvement of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system has led to the formation of specialty programs such as mental health courts (hereafter MHCs). We discuss MHCs and the teams serving these courts. Specifically, we examine team members' perceptions of MHC goals and their own and others' roles on the MHC team. Using a semi-structured interview instrument, we conducted 59 face-to-face interviews with criminal justice and mental health treatment personnel representing 11 Ohio MHCs. Findings from our qualitative data analyses reveal that MHC personnel understand individuals' roles within the teams, recognize and appreciate the importance of different roles, and share common goals. MHCs could foster this level of understanding and agreement by working to recruit and retain individuals with experience in or willingness to learn about both the criminal justice and mental health systems. Future research should explore the impact of MHC team functioning on client outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Criminal Law / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Judicial Role*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Health Services / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Ohio
  • Professional Role*
  • United States
  • Workforce