Recovery, not imprisonment, is what mentally ill need, says NAMI

Recovery, not imprisonment, is what mentally ill need, says NAMI

Drug-related offenses account for nearly 20 percent of the prisons population, which is almost 31 percent of the total admissions to the prison in the United States, as per a report of November 2015. Similarly, mental health patients also form a good portion of the U.S. inmates that further worsens their condition in the absence of proper treatment. The conduct that should be meted to individuals struggling with mental illnesses and addiction problems when caught committing minor crimes was up for discussion at a recent annual meeting of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) held at Knoxville, Tennessee.

Jamie Ogle, crisis services coordinator with the Helen Ross McNabb Center stated that since time immemorial, people booked for minor crimes and struggling with a mental disorder or an addiction problem have been sent to jail. Knoxville Police Department’s Patrol Division Captain Don Jones said the department feels that sending mentally ill people to jail for minor crimes is not an effective way to treat them. What they need is treatment and not incarceration, he added.

During the meeting, it was also announced that a bill has been proposed by state representative Eddie Smith and Senator Becky Duncan Massey to financially aid a Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center (BHUCC). If passed, the BHUCC will be set up and mentally ill people committing minor crimes will be directed here for treatment.

Recovery courts

Recovery court programs focus on helping individuals navigate to programs that might eventually help them to recover from their mental illness and break free of their addictions during the course. Frank Vollmer, veteran mentor coordinator for Knox County Drug Court, said he has seen that the recovery court system has been successful in dealing with such convicts. He said the rate of re-offending has been considerably lower for people who have been able to successfully complete the rehab program.

The panelists were unanimous that there is a need to address the issues of mental health disorders and substance abuse as any other physical ailment and must be treated properly, without attaching any stigma and legal angle to it.

The management of substance abuse or a mental illness is similar when it comes to treating someone from a general population or someone in the criminal justice system. However, people involved in legal battles, owing to their criminal activity, have additional stressors such as criminal thinking, resilience and denial issues.

In addition, multiple offenders also have a history of chronic mental health disorders which might have contributed to their addiction problem and hence criminal activities. In such cases, to ensure that these individuals reap full benefit of a recovery program, it is imperative that they are provided with due support which takes care of their legal matters while they are undergoing treatment.

How we can help

Patients come to Sovereign Health because they want to change their lives. Our treatment programs afford them this opportunity. But legal problems stemming from a substance abuse problem can interfere with treatment. Sovereign Health’s Court Services facility helps work around the obstacles and allows patients in California to focus solely on recovery.

Court Services acts as the patient’s legal counsel, working with the patient’s defense attorney, the judge and the district attorney (DA) to advocate treatment rather than jail time. Individualized treatment plans addressing each patient’s specific needs are prepared and presented to the court. The treatment plans also provides the court with progress markers that the patient is expected to achieve during the course of his or her treatment.

Contact the Sovereign Health for more information on treatment for mental health and substance abuse.  You can call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 for expert advice on mental health centers in California. You can also chat online to find out about our mental health facilities in California.

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