What is mental health court?

Many courthouses across Ontario now have mental health courts. Mental health courts are criminal law courts created to help deal with accused persons who have mental health and other related issues. Depending on the courthouse that you are in, the mental health court may or may not be called “mental health court.” These courts are called different names, and operate in different ways. In some courthouses, the mental health court is open every day. In other courthouses, the mental health court may only operate once a week or every two weeks. Mental health courts in Ontario often have the following features:

  • a specific judge or group of judges that sit in that court;
  • a specific Crown or small number of Crowns assigned to that court;
  • a specific duty counsel or small number of duty counsel assigned to that court;
  • specially trained court officers;
  • mental health court workers;
  • an on-site psychiatrist on specific days (note: this is rare in courthouses in smaller communities).