The successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope with adversity. – U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, SAMHSA
Mental Health Problems
Signs and symptoms of insufficient intensity or duration to meet the criteria for any mental disorder.
There are a multitude of factors that lead people into the criminal or juvenile justice system; mental health challenges can be a major contributor. These issues can range from temporary mental health problems, mental illness, underlying mental health issues leading to substance use/abuse, and/or cognitive or emotional impairments.
One of these factors and certainly any combination of these factors can lead to impaired judgment and poor decision making. Impaired judgment and poor decision making can potentially lead to violations of relationships and/or laws that cause entry to the criminal or juvenile justice system.
We believe that people should not be punished for having an illness or impairment, especially a temporary one.
Unfortunately, mental health problems and mental illness are not always acknowledged, treated, and managed adequately. The good news is that these factors can be addressed and they do not have to negatively impact people’s lives. Like diabetes, cancer, and other illnesses, mental health challenges do not define the person; it is simply something they need to manage in order to function properly.
A criminal defense law firm is an excellent platform for professionals who are trained in assessing and treating mental health challenges. In this scope, if the issue is identified as a contributing factor to the behavior that led to criminal charges, the defense team can bring the issue to the prosecutor’s attention and negotiate an opportunity to address the mental health challenge BEFORE a conviction. Prosecutors are sensible people who understand that their role is to assist in maintaining public safety. Often, they will offer a favorable result for a defendant if they feel comfortable that the person is less likely to re-offend.