When Dave, 19, was referred to Legal Aid’s Mental Health Court (MHC) Diversion program, he was in a dire situation. He suffered from devastating symptoms of mental illness and had been arrested for assaulting family members. Although Dave was noticeably disturbed, his mental illness had not been clinically diagnosed. Subsequently, he was suspended from college and faced possible jail time. Legal Aid’s attorney offered him the opportunity to divert his charges in Jackson County’s MHC. This program stipulated that he be immediately assessed and treated for his probable mental illness. That’s when his life began to change.

Dave received representation, counsel and advice from Legal Aid to assist him through the Mental Health Court process. A court monitor from Swope Health Services diagnosed his condition and he received prescriptions to help him function. He was closely monitored to ensure that he stayed on his daily medications, was tested for illegal substances, and reported to the MHC judge for six months.

With guidance from his attorney, Dave started a part-time job, reunited with his family, and was re-accepted to college. He graduated from the MHC Diversion Program by remaining medically compliant, drug-free, and not incurring any new charges. The court dismissed his assault case and the entire process took ten months. Dave’s story is a success not merely because the municipal charge was dropped, but because he has a chance to lead a healthier, more productive life.

* Our intense desire to respect our clients’ confidentiality prevents us from using real photos and names.

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