The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) are accepting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2014 grants to Develop and Expand Behavioral Health Treatment Court Collaboratives (BHTCC). The purpose of this program is to allow local courts more flexibility to collaborate with multiple criminal justice system components and local community treatment and recovery providers to address the behavioral health needs of adults who are involved with the criminal justice system and provide the opportunity to divert them from the criminal justice system. The collaborative will allow eligible individuals to receive treatment and recovery support services as part of a court collaborative. This program will focus on connecting with individuals early in their involvement with the criminal justice system and prioritize the participation of municipal and misdemeanor courts in the collaborative.
SAMHSA’s vision of BHTCC in the justice system is one that supports treatment and recovery support for people with behavioral health conditions and that improves public health and public safety. Many communities have specialized court programs that serve one subset or another of behavioral health conditions. There are an estimated 2400 drug courts, 300 mental health courts, and 100 veterans treatment courts operating in the United States that engage individuals with various behavioral health conditions. Some of these courts serve people with co-occurring disorders while others do not. Drug courts have standardized guidelines and in some states, required protocols and sanctions. Mental health courts on the other hand, are unique and sanctions are applied more flexibly. Recognizing that different approaches work best with different populations, a collaborative, coordinated system is necessary to ensure people with behavioral health needs involved in the justice system are identified and best served.
SAMHSA recognizes that individuals with behavioral health conditions (e.g., serious mental illnesses (SMI), substance use and co-occurring mental and substance use disorders) who are involved with the criminal justice system face many obstacles obtaining quality behavioral health services in the community. Often, these disorders are first identified and addressed in justice settings where limited resources are available to address them. The interface between justice systems and community behavioral health care is often disjointed, allowing service gaps and fragmented care to disrupt the individual’s transition from incarceration to the community and threatens their recovery.
SAMHSA believes that substance use and mental disorders should be seen in a larger behavioral health context, and therefore seeks to promote transformation in service systems that will change how individuals with behavioral health conditions are identified, screened, adjudicated, and referred for treatment. These changes require significant infrastructure and service system change in which all relevant services, essential to succeed in the community are addressed. As in all behavioral health settings, services that include health, housing, employment, treatment and recovery support must be consumer centered, recovery focused, evidence based and quality driven approaches.
The BHTCC grant program provides opportunities for courts to build collaborations with other existing criminal courts, court diversion programs, and/or alternatives to incarceration programs in order to facilitate the transformation of the State and local behavioral health delivery system. By leveraging a spectrum of community based services, the courts can facilitate the expansion and enhancement of treatment and recovery support services for adults with behavioral health conditions.
The collaborative allows for the coordination of judicial activities and for screening, referral, adjudication, monitoring and treatment of adults with behavioral health conditions. Services to eligible adults with behavioral health conditions will be consumer centered, recovery oriented, evidence-based, quality driven, and trauma informed. In alignment with the goals of SAMHSA’s Trauma and Justice Strategic Initiative, this grant program will help reduce the pervasive, harmful, and costly health impact of violence and trauma by integrating trauma-informed approaches throughout systems. The BHTCC seeks to address behavioral health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities through this program by encouraging the implementation of strategies to decrease the differences in access, service use, and outcomes among these subpopulations in this program. (See Appendix J of the RFA: Addressing Behavioral Health Disparities).
The population of focus for BHTCC grantees are adults identified by the court or community as having a behavioral health condition and who have been charged with a criminal offense and transferred to a local criminal court for trial/adjudication of that offense, diverted from the justice system through judicial screening, and/or sentenced to incarceration in jail or prison and returning to the community under some form of judicial supervision.
The BHTCC program provides joint funding from CSAT and CMHS to allow collaborating courts to address the behavioral health needs of individuals in the criminal justice or court continuum, including those who are reentering society after being re-incarcerated and under post-incarceration judicial supervision. By jointly funding grant awards, SAMHSA expects BHTCC grantees to reach a wider population of court-involved adults with behavioral health conditions who need treatment and recovery support services.
[Note: Applicants should refer to Section 2: Expectations, Funding Allocation for guidance on the joint funding, funding constraints, reporting and accounting, and budget submission requirements.]
The BHTCC is one of SAMHSA’s services grant programs. SAMHSA intends that its services grants result in the delivery of services as soon as possible after award. Service delivery should begin by the 6th month of the project at the latest.
BHTCC grants are authorized under Sections 509 of the Public Health Service Act, as amended for CSAT funds, and under Section 520A of the Public Health Service Act, as amended for CMHS funds. Jointly funding this program will allow grantees to reach a wider population of court-involved adults with behavioral health conditions (e.g., substance abuse disorders, serious mental illnesses, and co-occurring mental and substance use disorders) who need treatment and recovery support services.
This announcement addresses Healthy People 2020 Mental Health and Mental Disorders Topic Area HP 2020-MHMD and Substance Abuse Topic Area HP 2020-SA. Examples of various scenarios for which communities may use BHTCC funding are included in Appendix K of the RFA - Background Information.