Addressing mental health in the court system

April 20, 2017

Dr. Michelle Stewart and her graduate student Brittany Mario are raising awareness about people with mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities in the justice system.  

Dr. Michelle Stewart and Brittany Mario. Courtesy of University of Regina website.
Dr. Michelle Stewart and Brittany Mario. Courtesy of University of Regina website.

In a recent Feature Story on the University of Regina’s website, the pair, and team of undergraduates, were recognized for the research they conducted into the number of people with serious mental illness and cognitive disabilities, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), in the justice system.

The 88-page report is called, “Confronting the Challenge-- Community Supports, Stability and the Role of the Mental Health Disposition Court.”  

There are two Mental Health Disposition Courts, one located in Regina and the other in Saskatoon. The court meets twice a month to focus on cases for individuals with intellectual disabilities and/or mental health issues.

Since 2013, the courts have heard nearly 80 cases and have closed 36 of them. Of those 36 cases, most of the individuals have resulted in a “community-based disposition.” Only five individuals have received a sentence to serve in prison.

Dr. Stewart and co-investigator, Mario, have recommendations for the system, including providing resources to hire a fulltime psychologist, coordinator, legal aid, affordable housing and other resources to assist with mental health challenges.

For the full University of Regina’s feature story on Dr. Stewart and her team, click here.

For the full report, click here


 

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