Racial and ethnic differences in behavioral health, criminal legal system involvement, and service needs among mental health court participants: Implications for service delivery

This article was originally published here

Psychol Serv. 2022 May 12. doi: 10.1037/ser0000669. Online ahead of print.


Mental Health Courts (MHCs), an alternative to incarceration, aim to address behavioral health, social needs, and criminal recidivism and serve many adults with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder (COD). Despite the growth in MHCs, little research has examined ethnic/racial differences in behavioral health and service needs of individuals with COD. This study used data from behavioral health and social assessments administered to 146 adults with COD entering a Massachusetts MHC. Multivariate linear and logistic regression controlling for key demographics tested differences between racial/ethnic groups on current and lifetime substance use, mental health symptoms, and history of criminal legal system involvement. Hispanic participants were more likely than non-Hispanic White participants to report current and lifetime serious mental illness and lifetime Emergency Department (ED) mental health treatment. Non-Hispanic White participants were more likely to report current and lifetime use of illicit substances, more recent outpatient and overall lifetime treatment attempts for substance use, and higher number of lifetime arrests compared to non-Hispanic Black participants. Lastly, non-Hispanic White participants also reported more recent outpatient and overall lifetime treatment attempts for substance use compared to Hispanic participants. Racial/ethnic differences in behavioral health and social needs of MHC enrollees with COD exist and should be considered in the planning and delivery of psychological and social services. Understanding the diverse population of new MHC enrollees is an important first step in identifying and addressing racial and ethnic disparities. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

PMID:35549301 | DOI:10.1037/ser0000669

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