The county is following the lead of scores of other counties across the United States that have created mental health courts with the hope of decreasing the number of mentally ill coming through the criminal justice system.
Mental illness and substance abuse hurt the Texas economy through lost earning potential, treatment of coexisting conditions, disability payments, homelessness, and incarceration.
Mental illness is a leading cause of disability in the United States. About 13 million adults have a debilitating mental illness each year, and almost half of all adults will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime. Five percent of adults have a serious mental illness.[i] About one in five children are affected by a mental health disorder with severe impairment in their lifetime.[ii]
In 2009, 23 percent of the adult offenders in Texas state prisons, on parole, or on probation were current or former clients of the Texas public mental health system.[i] A Texan with a serious mental illness is eight times more likely to be in a jail than in a hospital or treatment program, at a cost of $50,000 a year. A person in jail without a mental illness costs the state about $22,000 annually.[ii]
[i] Texas Department of State Health Services. Decision Support Unit. Another Look at Mental Illness and Criminal Justice Involvement in Texas: Correlates and Costs. 2010. Available from http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dshs.state.tx.us%2Fmhsa%2Freports%2Fcriminaljusticecorrelates_2010%2F&ei=-m-MT__FIKWi2QX-pqHcCg&usg=AFQjCNFUzvME_MbpMu6CxK2gtFdiaYok4g&sig2=NQpeYzDyldwd_Oiw-P9v2Q. Access April 2012.
[ii] National Alliance on Mental Illness of Texas. Helping Texas Families and Saving Taxpayer Dollars. Available at
http://www.namitexas.org/homecontent/Help_Families_Save_Tax_Dollars_v2.pdf. Accessed April 2012.
[i] National Institute of Mental Health. Any disorder among adults. Available from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1ANYDIS_Adult.shtml. Access April 2012.
[ii] Merikangas KR, He J, et al., Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Study, supplement (NCS-A), Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2010 Oct;49(10):980-9.