External review of Nova Scotia Mental Health Court to be released

Nova Scotia
In the first seven months of 2017 there were 7,515 cases of violence, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. File Photo

HALIFAX – An external review will be released Monday on the effectiveness of Nova Scotia’s mental health court.

The specialized court was set up in 2009 to deal with people with mental disorders who come into conflict with the law. The goals of the court were to improve the mental health of participants and also reduce rates of reoffending.

The report, released at noon, will look at whether the court is meeting it’s goals.

Justice Minister Lena Metlege Diab said last November that the court was achieving its objectives, but there were no plans to extend its services beyond the Halifax region.

At the time, the court’s own report card on its progress, showed that of the 232 people deemed eligible for the diversion program, 199 successfully completed it. The program is voluntary and participants who choose to leave it are returned to the regular court system.

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Statistics covering the court’s operations between 2010 and 2013 showed more men than women were using the court. One-hundred and fifty-five man and 77 women were deemed eligible for the court. The most common diagnosis for men who were referred to the court was schizophrenia. For women who were referred to the court, the most common diagnoses were bipolar disorder or major depression.

On average each person referred to the court between 2010 and 2013 faced five charges, said the report. The criminal offences varied widely from fairly minor mischief and theft to charges involving assaults, weapons, and threats. Theft was the most common offence, followed closely by common assaults.

The November report celebrated the court as a success, saying all participants who completed the program were satisfied with it and reported positive changes in their lives.

– With files from the Canadian Press