Bridging mental health and criminal justice systems: A systematic review of the impact of mental health courts on individuals and communitiesedit
Existing reviews of mental health courts summarize the effectiveness of these programs without consideration of the component parts of the mental health court and who the court serves. This systematic review addresses this gap by using specific criteria for what constitutes a mental health court and presents results based on the charge type for the target population. Only experimental or quasi-experimental research designs are included in this review. Studies included involved mental health courts containing essential elements and included measures of recidivism or other mental health and quality of life-related outcomes. Twenty-nine articles were reviewed. Research on mental health courts primarily originated in the Unites States, covering 14 states. Findings are synthesized by whether the courts served people with felony, misdemeanor, or combination charges. These findings inform the need for national or international standards or clear guidelines for what components or elements define a mental health court. State-level policy is also needed to encourage the systematic collection of data on mental health courts to inform who mental health courts work for in specific communities. These data can also be used to inform local mental health court policy decisions.