Mental Health Unit

Mental Health Unit (MHU) supervision is a specialized probation program that focuses on individuals with severe and chronic mental illness. This type of supervision is a sentencing option separate from the Problem Solving Courts in key ways. Eligibility for MHU supervision is different from the mental health courts, with different restrictions on criminal history. MHU participants are not part of a multidisciplinary team like the mental health courts, so probation officers in this unit take a more active role in coordinating mental health services and treatment. Assignment to MHU is also more flexible, since it is a sentencing option available to all judges instead of just the dedicated Mental Health Court judges. Common diagnoses for individuals supervised by MHU include schizophrenia, major depression with psychosis, and bipolar disorder. Individuals eligible for this unit may also present with both mental health concerns and substance use disorders.

Eligibility for the Mental Health Unit

Eligibility for MHU is determined through a screening process that can happen before a person is sentenced to probation, or after sentence to probation. The screening process includes a review of criminal history, behavioral health history, social history, and eligibility for public benefits. Probation officers will complete the eligibility assessment and make a recommendation to the court with their findings. Individuals who are found eligible and placed in the unit are supervised by probation officers with experience working with individuals who have behavioral health issues.

Supervision Strategies & Interventions

Probation officers in this unit work closely with community-based providers to stabilize individuals and help reduce hospitalization and incarceration. Individuals in MHU are subject to many of the same procedures as standard probation clients, including sanctions and incentives, violations of probation, and ongoing reporting.

MHU-specific interventions include:

  • Case management and linkage to appropriate community-based treatment providers
  • Close engagement with treatment providers after placement
  • Ongoing collaboration with the court to provide status, progress, and non-compliance information