Day in the Life of Paul
Mental Health Court Client
Participating in the 18th Judicial District’s Mental Health Court isn’t easy. First, clients must be accepted into the program, based on criteria such as evidence of a serious commitment to recovery. Then, clients must complete a heavy load of classes, participate in group and individual therapy, work on skills development and more. Here’s what a typical non-court day for “Paul” looks like in the early phase of the Mental Health Court program.
- At 8 a.m., one or more of the mental health treatment team case managers arrives at the home where Paul is living. Paul’s case manager checks to make sure Paul has taken his medication. They talk about any issues that have arisen as well as plans for the day.
- The case manager takes Paul to the offices of the Criminal Justice Services at Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network, which is close to the 18th Judicial District Court. Several clients, all of whom are in the first phase of the program, meet in a group with therapists and case managers. For the first hour, they all share news, discussing the results of their court appearances or doctor visits, and talk about their relationships or other issues they are working on. They celebrate their accomplishments — such as a milestone of sobriety — and discuss any special concerns they might have, such as getting through a family birthday celebration or handling a court appearance.
- Next, Paul and the others take a 90-minute Illness Management and Recovery class, which helps them learn how to understand and manage with the symptoms of their mental illnesses.
- The next class, A New Direction, helps Paul to learn about his substance abuse and criminal thinking patterns. (On other days, Paul will take different classes, such as Dialectic Behavioral Therapy and Seeking Safety. The underlying philosophy of Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment [IDDT], addressing both substance abuse and mental health issues, is woven throughout all treatment. Such treatment is evidence based; that is, it has been clinically proven to work.)
- Paul and the others break for lunch — but they continue talking. All clients and the treatment staff eat together.
- After lunch, Paul meets with his therapist for individual mental health counseling.
- Next, Paul meets with his case manager to work on issues such as housing, benefits and re-building his relationships with friends and family.
- In the late afternoon, one of Paul’s case managers takes him back to his living facility. In the evening, Paul is free to relax, talk with other residents and work on homework assignments.
- Curfew is at 8 p.m. Later phases of the program provide greater independence and reintegration into the community — through housing, self-care, employment and healthier thought patterns and relationships. The ultimate goal is a successful return to the community as a productive, law-abiding citizen.