Did you know that Marion County hosts a mental health alternative court for offenders with a diagnosed mental illness? It's true!
Every third Wednesday, the Interfaith Coalition for Mental Health hosts a luncheon to discuss various mental health topics. This month's topic: Marion County's Mental Health courts. These courts exist to help those who either have low-level offenses or misdemeanors in the Psychiatric Assertive Identification and Referral Program (PAIR), or those who have felonies in the Behavioral Health Courts. According to the Marion County Sheriff's Department, around 40 percent of all inmates are identified to have some degree of mental illness; while not all of these inmates enter the mental health courts, those who do receive guidance, resources, caseworkers, and a sense of community. They are given second and third chances, they are trained in job skills and gain increased employability, and they have someone to listen to them, to help them identify triggers and congratulate them on their successes.
The mental health alternative courts not only benefits those who enter them, but also benefits the community as a whole. Making mental wellness a part of the conversation about corrections, allowing growth in those who oftentimes lack the means or structure to acknowledge mental wellness, and increasing capacity, employability, and sense of well-being in those offenders in order to decrease recidivism strengthens the entire community. During this mental health awareness month, let us remember those in prison who struggle with mental illness and let us support them in their effort for health, well being, and growth.
Thank you to the Interfaith Coalition for Mental Health for providing a platform of discussion for these topics.
If you are struggling with your mental health and need resources, please check out our Resources pages to find services.