Here are several things to get you started:

  1. Visit these websites that include lots of information about mental health court implementation and practice:
         a. National Center for State Courts
         b. Council of State Governments
         c. GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation
         d. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
         e. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
         f.  Criminal Justice Mental Health Consensus Project
         g. Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts

  2. Make sure you have everyone at the table. Have a meeting that includes your local stakeholders and ensure everyone is on board. This includes at least your local elected officials (law enforcement, district attorney, mayor, members of your local commission, the judge who would preside over the court), but also the public defender, area treatment providers, mental health providers, large employers, the prevention coalition (if you have one), the faith community, vocational organizations, probation services, etc. This list could get pretty big, but you want to know up front where support lies and where barriers may exist. You won’t get a recovery court off the ground without support from the district attorney, and you want to know which providers are willing to work with you before it’s time to send someone to treatment!

  3. While there are only a few in Tennessee, visit a mental health court near you if possible. Call TADCP or Liz Ledbetter, State Drug Court Administrator, which courts would be good for you to visit.

  4. Determine funding resources. There are no state funds for mental health courts at this time, but it is possible to access community-based services for participants. Contact your local mental health provider(s). You will want them at the table anyway. They are experts at treatment resources.

  5. Whether you are able to access national implementation training or not, you will want to participate in training and strategic planning to put your new program together. There are a few resources out there to help you. Contact TADCP at 615-939-2872 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Liz Ledbetter at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 615-532-3411 for additional resources.