Adults charged with a criminal offence who have some indication of mental health issues can request that their matters be heard in Edmonton's Mental Health Court.
Access to mental health services has become more essential than ever. Adults charged with a criminal offence who have some indication of mental health issues can request that their matters be heard in Mental Health Court (MHC). At this time, only Albertans who have Edmonton charges are eligible to be referred into the court.
MHC has stayed open in some capacity throughout the pandemic to ensure no one falls through the cracks.
1. MHC is a specialized criminal docket court designed for people in conflict with the law due to mental health issues.
2. MHC in Edmonton began in spring 2018. While it is the first of its kind in Alberta, the court is modeled after other longstanding mental health courts in other parts of the country.
3. The aim of the court is to recognize that in a lot of cases, people who are in conflict with the law also struggle with mental illness and other concurrent issues such as poverty, lack of housing, trauma, and addictions.
4. Mental Health Court uses a collaborative approach, integrating health care and legal professionals to break the cycle of crime for Albertans facing mental health challenges. The court hears information and expertise from social workers, psychiatrists and nurses, as well as designated judges, crown prosecutors, and duty counsel and justice navigators from Legal Aid Alberta. LAA plays a vital part in the MHC process and ensures the court functions effectively.
5. There are no trials.
6. Like other specialty courts, Mental Health Court has proven to be an effective way to assist Alberta’s most marginalized community members by connecting them with the right resources and supports, recognizing the disadvantages they face, and creating solutions that provide meaningful acceptance of responsibility.
7. The court is a safe place for those who struggle with mental health issues. People are treated with great dignity in an effort to understand their challenges in conditions that don’t set them up for failure.