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Mental Health Courts

How to Start a Mental Health Court

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. 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. 

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 [intellectual disability] 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 [intellectual disability] services;
  5. Ongoing judicial interaction with program participants;
  6. Diversion of potentially mentally ill or [intellectually disabled] 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 [intellectual disability] authorities.

While Texas has about 250 identified specialty courts, there are only about 25 counties with a recognized mental health court program (some counties have more than one program) per the active court list provided by the Office of Court Administration (as of January 26, 2024). 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 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

Brazoria County Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

374,600

4

Cameron County Mental Health Divert/AOT Court

Mental Health Court

421,017

5

Collin County Mental Health Specialty Court

Mental Health Court

1,158,696

5

Collin County Juvenile Mental Health Intervention Program (JMHIP)

Juvenile Court

1,158,696

6

Comal County Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

1,072,069

7

Dallas County Competency Court

Mental Health Court

2,613,539

7

Dallas County Mental Health Diversion Court

Mental Health Court

2,613,539

7

Dallas County Dual Diagnosis Aftercare

Mental Health Court

2,613,539

7

Dallas County Juvenile Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

2,613,539

8

SOAR, Denton County Juvenile Mental Health Court

Juvenile Court

906,422

9

El Paso County Project Hope – Juvenile Mental Health Court

Juvenile Court

865,657

10

Fannin County Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

35,662

11

Fort Bend County Mental Health Docket

Mental Health Court

822,779

11

Fort Bend Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

822,779

11

Fort Bend County Juvenile Intervention and Mental Health

Juvenile Court

822,779

12

Galveston County Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

350,801

13

Harris County Felony Mental Health Court – Co-Occurring Disorders

Mental Health Court

4,731,145

13

Harris County Felony Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

4,731,145

13

Harris County Court 360

Mental Health Court

4,731,145

14

Hays County Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

241,067

15

Hidalgo County LIFELINES Girls Juvenile Mental Health Court

Juvenile Court

870,781

15

Hidalgo County Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

870,781

16

Jefferson County Juvenile Mental Health Court

Juvenile Court

256,526

17

Kaufman County 422nd Drug and Mental Health Court

Drug Court

145,310

18

McLennan Co. Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

260,579

19

Medina County Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

50,748

20

Midland County Mental Health Court

Mental Health Court

169,983

21

Montgomery County Mental Health Treatment Court

Mental Health Court

620,443

22

Tarrant County Mental Health Diversion Court

Mental Health Court

2,110,640

23

Travis County Mental Health Diversion Court

Mental Health Court

1,290,188

24

Val Verde Juvenile/Mental Health Hybrid Specialty Court

Juvenile Court

47,586

24

Val Verde Mental Health Specialty Court

Mental Health Court

47,586

25

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. 

Request Assistance with a Mental Health Court

The mission of the Judicial Commission on Mental Health is to engage and empower court systems through collaboration, education, and leadership, thereby improving the lives of individuals with mental health needs, substance use disorders, or intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). While we recognize and understand you or a loved one may be facing mental health struggles, the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health does not provide legal advice and cannot make any referrals to, or promote any provider of, mental health services. We encourage individuals who are seeking legal counsel to contact the State Bar, and individuals who are seeking mental health services to contact your Local Mental Health Authority.