Mental Health Court

DeKalb County Felony Mental Health Court

The DeKalb County Felony Mental Health Court (DCFMHC) began operation in January 2016 as a two-year judicially supervised treatment/ alternative sentencing program to assist felony offenders who present with severe and persistent mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders. The program targets and engages moderate to high-risk (recidivism) and high-needs (service needs) participants in intensive outpatient treatment services as that of the DeKalb County Drug Court (DCDC) model. The program participants also present with an extensive history of non-compliance with medication and treatment in the community, in addition to multiple risk factors, such as significant criminal histories, housing issues, etc. 

While in the program, participants have the opportunity to learn coping skills and strategies to assist with maintaining everyday life stressors while taking prescribed medication.  DeKalb is quite different than other program models around the State in that it offers in-house services; including psychiatric care.  Participants see the psychiatrist a minimum of once per month and are also provided assistance with all prescribed medication at no cost.  The stigmas associated with having a mental illness and the cost of medications is known barriers for treatment compliance and success.  DeKalb continues to assist its clients not only with skills, psychiatric support, and medication, but ensuring adequate housing is available, transportation is accessible, and participants are provided a high level of care and services to meet their goals. 

The DCFMHC completed its first Peer Review in June 2017 by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and was commended on the level of services that are provided to the participants, the cohesiveness of the Team, and more notably, the buy-in and trust from the program participants.  The participants attended a focus group in which they acknowledge feeling very supported and the Judge and staff are invested in improving their quality of life.

With the collaborative efforts of The Superior Court, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, the DeKalb County Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office, and various other community-based agencies the program continues to grow and expands its services. The program can serve approximately 15 participants with severe and persistent mental illness given the level of care presently being provided.