Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-12-2023


Chronic criminal legal system (CLS) involvement among individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) is of growing concern. Mental health courts (MHCs) are a known diversion strategy currently used by the CLS to address this problem. MHCs are seen as an effective method for linking individuals with SMI to needed treatment, removing them from a detention setting, and subsequently reducing recidivism. However, less is known about the impact of MHC enrollment on mental health related outcomes (mental distress). Using the McArthur Mental Health Court Study data, this study aimed to inspect the impact of MHC participation, legal coercion, and treatment motivation on mental distress among adults with depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Despite some data limitations, this study provides insight into the predictors of mental distress among MHC participants with SMI. Additionally, the findings encourage a review of the use of self-report measures of treatment motivation and legal coercion among adults with SMI that are CLS involved.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Kamilla Venner, PhD

Second Committee Member

Katie Witkiewitz, PhD

Third Committee Member

Lisa Callahan, PhD

Fourth Committee Member

Faye Taxman, PhD




mental health court, public safety outcomes, serious mental illness, treatment access

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