MENTAL HEALTH REENTRY PROGRAM
The Mental Health Reentry Program (MHRP) is a program that provides a high level of service and intensive supervision for parolees who have been diagnosed with chronic mental illness. Participants must have a diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in the Axis I category. These diagnoses include schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, mood disorders (depression, anxiety, panic), and bipolar disorder. Of those clients admitted to the program, 98% have had a significant history of substance abuse. Many have used alcohol and illicit drugs to self-medicate their mental health problems. Oftentimes, this leads to criminal behavior, arrest and placement in the criminal justice system. This program is designed to impact on the recidivism of clients with co-occurring disorders. Maximum impact is achieved by providing a higher level of service, support and supervision than is available in the traditional parole supervision situation. MHRP clients must agree to comply with substance abuse and mental health treatment recommendations. They must also be agreeable to taking their psychiatric medications as prescribed by their treating physician.
The MHRP assists parolees in making the connection to the services they need. During the critical period of transition from the institution back to the community, MHRP staff are sensitive to the special needs of these clients and are focused on making appropriate referrals and monitoring follow through and compliance with treatment objectives. Without extra services, supervision, and support, clients with co-occurring disorders often fall through the cracks of helping agencies and the criminal justice system. They can get caught in a cycle of recidivism and become an ongoing public safety problem.
Community Accountability Board
Participants in the Mental Health Reentry Program (MHRP) are expected to attend meetings with a Community Accountability Board (CAB). The CAB is a model of community collaboration consistent with the District’s restorative justice philosophy. Under the guidance and direction of MHRP staff, the CAB assists our clients in reintegrating into their respective communities. Members of the CAB represent agencies in the following areas: mental health treatment; family and individual therapy; vocational services; education; employment; law enforcement; mental health advocacy; and neighborhood and faith-based organizational support.
There are two separate boards and each meets monthly for a two hour session. Each board consists of approximately ten members. Three clients are generally seen at each CAB meeting. Clients in need of extra support and assistance, especially those in the early stages of the program, are seen monthly by the CAB. Clients making satisfactory progress in the program are generally seen by the CAB every 2-3 months. CAB members make their expertise, experience and support available to the clients they see in these meetings. Many CAB members also make themselves available to clients outside the board meeting, via phone contact or visits at their respective agencies. This “personal touch” is especially valuable to mental health clients, who often experience difficulty accessing and following through with helping services. It also has the effect of encouraging clients to utilize these same services after they complete their involvement in the MHRP.