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Mental Health Courts

JCMH assists counties with creating, expanding, and improving local mental health courts and dockets. Assistance includes guidance, training, grant opportunities and connections with mentor courts. 

Mental Health Courts are a type of specialty court treatment program that connects defendants with long-term community-based treatment. The courts use assessments, individualized treatment plans, and judicial monitoring to address both the mental health needs of individuals and public safety concerns of the local community. 

Texas Mental Health Courts

Texas Government Code Chapter 125 sets out the statutorily required characteristics for Mental Health Court Programs as:

  1. The integration of mental illness treatment services and mental retardation services in the processing of cases in the judicial system;
  2. The use of a nonadversarial approach involving prosecutors and defense attorneys to promote public safety and to protect the due process rights of program participants;
  3. Early identification and prompt placement of eligible participants in the program;
  4. Access to mental illness treatment services and mental retardation services;
  5. Ongoing judicial interaction with program participants;
  6. Diversion of potentially mentally ill or mentally retarded defendants to needed services as an alternative to subjecting those defendants to the criminal justice system;
  7. Monitoring and evaluation of program goals and effectiveness;
  8. Continuing interdisciplinary education to promote effective program planning, implementation, and operations; and
  9. Development of partnerships with public agencies and community organizations, including local mental retardation authorities.

While Texas has over 150 identified specialty courts, there are only about 14 counties with a recognized mental health court program (some counties have more than one program) per the active court list provided by the Texas Specialty Court Resource Center. Some court programs (or special dockets) may not be recognized as a Mental Health Court due to program's failure to meet the statutory requirements or failure to register the court with OCA. 

 

County/Court Name

Court Type

County Population

1

Bexar County Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

2,009,324

1

Bexar County Felony Co-Occurring Disorder Court (CORE)

Mental Health Court

2,009,324

2

Bowie County Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

92,893

3

Cameron County Mental Health Divert/AOT Court

Mental Health Court

421,017

4

Dallas County Competency Court

Mental Health Court

2,613,539

4

Dallas County Mental Health Diversion Court

Mental Health Court

2,613,539

4

Dallas County Dual Diagnosis Aftercare

Mental Health Court

2,613,539

4

Dallas County Juvenile Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

2,613,539

5

El Paso County Project Hope – Juvenile Mental Health Court

Juvenile Court

865,657

6

Fannin County Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

35,662

7

Fort Bend County Mental Health Docket

Mental Health Court

822,779

7

Fort Bend Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

822,779

8

Harris County Felony Mental Health Court – Co-Occurring Disorders

Mental Health Court

4,731,145

8

Harris County Felony Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

4,731,145

8

Harris County Court 360

Mental Health Court

4,731,145

9

Jefferson County Juvenile Mental Health Court

Juvenile Court

256,526

10

Kaufman County 422nd Drug and Mental Health Court

Drug Court

145,310

11

Midland County Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

169,983

12

Montgomery County Mental Health Treatment Court

Mental Health Court

620,443

13

Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion Court

Mental Health Court

2,110,640

14

Uvalde County 38th District Specialty Court

Mental Health Court

24,564

Office of Court Administration (OCA)

Specialty court programs (including Mental Health Courts) should be registered with the Office of Court Administration. Under section 121.002 of the Texas Government Code, registration includes: 

  • written notice of the program
  • any resolution or other official declaration under which the program was established
  • copy of the applicable community justice plan that incorporates duties related to probation and supervision that will be required under the program

Find more information about registering specialty courts here

Creating a Texas MHC Program

Considering whether or not to create a Mental Health Court (MHC) program in your community? JCMH's 10-Step Guide is a quick reference filled with links to resources to help create a Texas MHC program in your community. JCMH also provides consultations to discuss methods for moving forward with creating a MHC program or expanding an existing program.

Resources & Training

There are various resources for Mental Health Courts, and even more resources available for specialty courts in general. Inclusion of the following external links are not an endorsement by the JCMH of the content of the websites, or of their policies, services or opinions of the organization or individual. These websites are helpful resources for judges and attorneys handling cases regarding persons with mental illness and/or IDD and are intended for reference use only.