Supporting and growing Mental Health Court Boot Camp

Legal Aid Alberta (LAA) is participating in a Mental Health Court Boot Camp at the Edmonton Law Courts on May 4, 2019. Families Supporting Adults with Mental Illness (FAMI) organized the boot camp to educate families and other people who support those struggling with mental health issues to navigate the criminal justice system.  The ultimate aim is to provide basic education about the criminal justice system and Mental Health Court (MHC), with an emphasis on how people can best support their loved ones who are involved with the criminal justice system.

MHC is a specialized criminal docket court, the first of its kind in Alberta, meant for people struggling with mental health issues and in conflict with the law. MHC is unique in that it helps address the other complex issues these individuals are often dealing with, such as homelessness, addictions, trauma and poverty. Amna Qureshi, designated duty counsel for LAA’s Mental Health Court Team, says, “The hope, based on success [of MHC] in other similar courts, is that by helping address these other underlying issues and meeting these individuals where they are at, they will have more meaningful access to the justice system, be set up to succeed for the long term, and ultimately that their conflict with the law can also be reduced.”

There will be several stakeholders attending and presenting at the event, including judges, crown counsel, social workers, sheriffs, police, and representatives of other community organizations. The Legal Aid Alberta Mental Health Court Team will also be presenting and answering questions. LAA has been integral to the success of MHC through the delivery of a team of designated Duty Counsel and Justice Navigators. These LAA staff work closely and collaboratively with social workers, nurses, Crown counsel and psychiatrists in the courtroom to come up with creative ways to assist individuals that appear in MHC.

Qureshi goes on to say that “events like [Mental Health Court Boot Camp] are a meaningful way not only to showcase and recognize the great work being done on the front lines of the criminal justice system to advocate for the most vulnerable in our community but also a practical way to empower those same people with information and access to justice.”

For more info visit famialberta.ca, email famialberta@gmail.com or call 780-414-6300. Registration is encouraged as capacity is limited.

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