Mental Health

This page is designed to provide magistrates, municipal judges, court administrators, clerks, prosecutors, juvenile case managers, bailiffs, warrant officers, and other court support personnel with resources related to mental health. According to the Department of Justice, 75 percent of female inmates and nearly 63 percent of male inmates in local jails have a mental health problem (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Special Report, Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates, September 2006). Before arriving in the criminal justice system, these individuals have frequently fallen through the “safety net” of families, hospitals, and community-based treatment providers. (Denckla, Derek & Berman, Greg, Rethinking the Revolving Door, A Look at Mental Illness in the Courts, Center for Court Innovation, 2001). Once they reach the courts, defendants with mental illness pose significant challenges for the courts.

Local, State, and National efforts have been are becoming underway as the concern for defendants with mental illness in the criminal justice center grows. Municipal courts not only see the highest volume of defendants in the Texas criminal justice system, but also have jurisdiction over the offenses most likely to be manifestations of mental illness and co-occurring disorders (mental illness and substance abuse).



Municipal Courts: An Effective Tool for Diverting People with Mental and Substance Use Disorders from the Criminal Justice System (Report prepared for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) by Policy Research Associates, Inc.)

Texas Juvenile Mental Health Courts: An Evaluation and Blueprint for the Future, Children At Risk, prepared for the Meadows Foundation

A Community Support Guide for Alternatives to Inpatient Mental Health Treatment (DSHS)

Basic Access to Behavioral Health Services (DSHS Flowchart)

TMCEC Webinars

Mental Health Issues in Municipal Courts, Presented by Dr. Courtney Harvey, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division, Adult Mental Health Services Unit, Department of State Health Services


Mental Health Warrants, Presented by the Honorable Stewart Milner, Presiding Judge, Arlington Division: JUD



TMCEC Forms Book, 2015 Edition - Mental Health Related Forms


2016 TMCEC Mental Health Summit: Session Recordings

Stepping Up: National and Texas Momentum to Reduce the Number of Mentally Ill Persons in Jail 

Dr. Tony Fabelo, Director of Research, Council of State Governments, Justice Center and Senior Fellow, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute of Texas

Gilbert Gonzales, Director of Mental Health Department, Bexar County

Mike Lozito, Director of Judicial Services, Bexar County

B.J. Wagner, Director of Smart Justice, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute


Fundamentals of Mental Illness: Understanding Mental Health Issues and Their Impact on Court Proceedings

Dr. Stephen Thorne, Clinical Psychologist, Austin


Realities and Myths of Cases with Mentally Ill Defendants

Honorable Chad Schmucker, President, National Judicial College


Developing Criminal Justice-Mental Health Partnerships

Travis Parker, Senior Project Associate II, Policy Research Associates, Inc.


Crisis Intervention Teams

James Turner,Senior Police Officer, Crisis Intervention Team, Austin Police Department


Magistrate Decision-Making in Cases Involving Mental Health Issues: Duties, Liabilities, and Authorities

Honorable Robin Ramsay, Presiding Judge, City of Denton


Community Strategies for Responding to Individuals with Mental Illness

Alyse Ferguson, Attorney Director, Collin County Mental Health Managed Counsel Program


Identifying, Screening, and Assessing Individuals with Co-Occurring Disorders in Municipal Courts

Erin Holmes, Director, Traffic Safety Programs, Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility

Jennifer Sowinski, Clinical Supervisor, Austin Downtown Community Court


Make the Connection: Mental Health Services and Support

Dr. Erin M. Foley, Forensic Director, Department of State Health Services

Dr. Courtney Harvey, Manager, Crisis Services and Client Rights Department, Department of State Health Services


In Our Own Voice

A presentation by the National Alliance on Mental Illness - Austin Affiliate (NAMI Austin)



Texas Department of State Health Services

Local Mental Health Authorities

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

NAMI Texas

The Council of State Governments Justice Center

The Meadows Foundation

Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FARR), Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS), an assessment project addressing co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders

GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation (SAMHSA)

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85th Legislative Session Bills of Interest

S.B. 292

Relating to the creation of a grant program to reduce recidivism, arrest, and incarceration of individuals with mental illness

S.B. 397

Relating to the composition of the governing bodies of and the consultation policies of local mental health authorities with respect to local law enforcement agencies

H.B. 562

Relating to a committee formed to adopt a plan to deal with mental illness in the criminal justice system

H.B. 909

Relating to preliminary examination periods for mental health protective custody