Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

Operating procedures of the Davidson County Mental Health Court

Upon their referral to the mental health court, thecourt’s social workers completed an initial interviewwith each defendant to determine eligibility for thecourt. Information received during this interviewwas entered into an intake form. Upon determininga defendant’s eligibility, the social worker requestedrecords of the defendant from the public school,day and residential treatment facilities, hospitals and the criminal justice system. This informationwent into the defendant’s file.

From among the defendants who entered thecourt between 2002 and 2008, active files existedfor defendants who were currently under the jurisdictionof the court and were actively receiving services.Inactive files existed for all defendants whohad been closed from the court and were no longerreceiving services. Inactive files were divided intotwo categories: closed and graduated. Closed filescontained the records of all defendants who hadbeen unable or unwilling to complete treatment andwho had been terminated from the court. Graduatedfiles contained the records of all defendantswho had successfully completed the court’s treatmentprogramme and had been deemed stable bythe court. Over the past 9 years, theDavidsonCounty Mental Health Courthas served over 800defendants and, at the time of this study, had 51active defendants. For each defendant, the recordincluded a DSM-IV diagnosis; the diagnosesincluded the first four axes and the fifth axis (calledthe Global Assessment of Functioning or GAF) ofthe DSM-IV.We specifically focused on the firsttwo axes, which detail the psychiatric diagnoses ofthe individual.We also focused on Axis V, in whichthe intake worker provided an overall estimate(ranging from 0 to 100) about the defendant’soverall functioning level. Additionally, the recordsincluded the defendant’s responses to questionsabout substance abuse, psychiatric history andphysical health. Such intake information wassupplemented by records relating to hospitalisation,psychiatric treatment, school and substance abusetreatment.

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