The first Co-Occurring Treatment Court in Callaway County was held Monday.
Treatment courts have a holistic approach to crime prevention and rehabilitation, offering treatment-based alternatives to prisons, detention centers and jails. Through such programs, the court system works with treatment providers, law enforcement and community partners to provide offenders with tools necessary for recovery so they can go on to lead crime-free lives.
The 13th Judicial Circuit of Missouri covers Boone and Callaway counties. In Boone County, it offers a drug, mental health, veterans and DWI courts. In Callaway County, there is a drug court, DWI court and family treatment court.
The new Co-Occurring Treatment Court focuses on participants who are experiencing both substance abuse and mental health diagnoses.
Nearly 8 million Americans suffer from substance use and mental health disorders, according to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Treatment for both problems is necessary for full recovery.
"There has been a need for access to mental health treatment for those involved in the criminal justice system for a very long time," Treatment Court Commissioner Casey Clevenger said in a news release. "This will better address both the substance use and mental health needs of our Drug Court participants. As with all of our treatment courts, the goal is to stop the cycle of substance use — sometimes used as self-medication — and to get participants into stable housing and jobs to support their families."
Participants will receive mental health treatment including access to psychiatric care, medication and case management.
"This court will create a greater opportunity for success with access to proper diagnosis and medication," Clevenger said.
The court is collaborating with Arthur Center Community Health.
"Through our Treatment Court team members, we were able to brainstorm ways to expand the courts that already exist here," Clevenger said. "The Fulton Police Department helped us foster a relationship with the community mental health liaison from the Arthur Center; they were integral in getting the pieces in place to move forward for this court."
Arthur Center community mental health liaison Laura Heitmann said her job involves working with law enforcement and the courts to get people the treatment they need.
"Treatment courts in general are a way to do that," she said.
The goal, Heitmann said, is to help "folks go on to happy, healthy, hopeful lives."