Establishing a Mental Health Clinic for Criminal Justice-involved IndividualsResponding to the comprehensive treatment needs of criminal justice-involved individuals with mental illness is a major challenge for both criminal justice and mental health officials.
Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services, Inc. / CASES
Special Projects Fund
April 2013 – January 2015
Responding to the comprehensive treatment needs of criminal justice-involved individuals with mental illness is a major challenge for both criminal justice and mental health officials. Individuals with mental health diagnoses are admitted to jail more frequently than people without mental illnesses for the same offenses, and nearly half of people with mental illness who are incarcerated return to jail within a year. Of youth held in New York State detention, 54% have mental illnesses, 63% have substance use disorders, and 54% have physical health disorders. Many New York City mental health clinics have long waiting lists for treatment and little or no experience serving individuals involved with the criminal justice system. In 2013, NYHealth awarded a grant to the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) to open the first mental health clinic in New York State that is specifically designed to meet the needs of youth and adults involved with the criminal justice system.
Outcomes and Lessons Learned
- Developed a clinic model that integrates evidence-based therapy, intervention, and treatment models;
- Opened the Nathaniel Clinic in September 2014—the first Article 31-licensed clinic in the State designed to provide outpatient mental health treatment to youth and adults involved with the criminal justice system;
- Established partnerships with several criminal justice agencies, community-based organizations, and health care providers for outreach and referrals;
- Served 394 clients, including 73 young people ages 13–21 over the grant period;
- Developed a staff training curriculum, including assessment protocols, treatment protocols and approaches, and complex care management; and
- Developed an evaluation plan to analyze the features and preliminary outcomes of the clinic.
CASES’ President/CEO and Director of Adult Behavioral Health Programs were appointed to the Mayor’s Task Force on Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice System, which was convened in 2014 with the goal of reducing the number of people with behavioral health issues in the criminal justice system. The task force produced an action plan that looks at gaps in the system and makes recommendations for reform, including addressing the overrepresentation of youth and adults with mental illness in the criminal justice system.
Although the clinic has had a large impact on the mental health front, many of its patients are not engaged in primary care or not connected in a way that sufficiently addresses their medical conditions. In 2015, NYHealth awarded a grant to CASES to partner with the Institute for Family Health to integrate primary care services into the Nathaniel Clinic’s mental health services.
Co-Funding and Additional Funds Leveraged: CASES leveraged NYHealth’s support for this project to secure additional funding for the Nathaniel Clinic from the New York Community Trust ($70,000), Sidney R. Baer Jr. Foundation ($300,000), Viola W. Bernard Fund ($17,500), van Amerigen Foundation ($100,000), and the Manhattan Borough President’s Office Capital Fund ($40,000). Additional support for the Nathaniel Clinic includes the Change Capital Award from the Nonprofit Finance Fund ($300,000) and a four-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ($1.6 million).