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Mental Health - Leading Change | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

Leading Change: Improving the Illinois Courts’ Response to Mental Health and Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders


Since its inception in 2019, the Illinois Mental Health Task Force (IMHTF) embraced a comprehensive approach to engagement in various activities; including planning and hosting an Illinois Mental Health Summit, participating in state and local behavioral health and justice initiatives, and facilitating Regional Workshops leading up to the development of an Illinois Action Plan. With the Illinois Supreme Court’s approval of the Action Plan during the November 2022 Term and the State Court Behavioral Health Administrator assisting in effectuating the recommendations, the Task Force determined that the group achieved the goals which it set.

As a result, the Special Supreme Court Advisory Committee for Justice and Mental Health Planning (JMHP) the IMHTF, and the Illinois Supreme Court are excited to announce the evolution of previous efforts into a statewide Leading Change: Improving Illinois Courts’ Response to Mental Illness and Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders initiative.

The “Leading Change” initiative will continue to build upon achievements of the past by advancing efforts in the present and future through increased engagement from the Bench and a broad network of justice partners.

Action Plan Overview:

Courts are in a unique position to lead change by following the recommendations and using the resources developed by the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness and the Illinois Mental Health Task Force Action Plan to bring communities together to communicate, collaborate, and improve public health and safety.

The Action Plan includes recommendations specific to the following activities and Intercepts:

  • Courts as Conveners and Leaders
  • Training Opportunities Across Intercepts
  • Awareness Across Intercepts
  • Intercepts Zero and One – Community Services and Law Enforcement
  • Intercept Two – Initial Detention and Court Hearings
  • Intercept Three – Jails/Courts
  • Intercept Four – Reentry
  • Intercept Five – Community Corrections

How to Use the Action Plan?

While the Action Plan serves as an initial roadmap for improving the community, court, and justice system response to individuals living with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders, it is not intended to be prescriptive or exhaustive.

In the absence of a rigid model and specific requirements, stakeholders are free to discover and develop innovative strategies to meet the needs of their communities and systems.

The recommendations can be used to formulate more specific goals, objectives, and responses that can be pursued by individual stakeholders and systems.

Illinois Mental Health Task Force Action Plan

Cross-Sector collaboration is not only encouraged among stakeholders and systems but serves as the foundation of the Action Plan.

Technical Assistance

The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, State Court Behavioral Health Administrator provides technical assistance to support emerging or existing behavioral health and justice coordinating councils, task forces, and community coalitions. The State Court Behavioral Health Administrator also facilitates virtual or in-person meetings between judges, mental or behavioral health providers, lawyers, and other stakeholders to identify and share information, resources, and evidence-based/best practices across the Sequential Intercept Model. To request assistance, please email:

Leading Change: Illinois Innovations

Developed by the State Court Behavioral Health Administrator and the Special Supreme Court Advisory Committee for Justice and Mental Health Planning’s Action Plan Subcommittee, the Leading Change: Illinois Innovations Series will highlight pioneering “Illinois-based” approaches and strategies that support strategic initiatives within the Illinois Mental Health Task Force Action Plan.

  • All installments will take place from 12:15pm – 1:00pm on the “First Friday” of each month.
  • Projected 2024 Presentations (subject to change)
  • To Register, please click on each link.
Date Title Circuit/
Presented by Description
Friday, January 5, 2024

Frequent Users Systems Engagement (FUSE) Program 11th Judicial Circuit Court/McLean County Kevin McCall MPH, MSW, LCSW, CHES, McLean County Director of Behavioral Health Coordination McLean County has adopted the FUSE model which is a signature initiative of the Corporation for Supportive Housing designed to “help communities break the cycle of homelessness and crisis among individuals with complex medical and behavioral health challenges.”
Friday, February 2, 2024

Misdemeanant Wellness Track 17th Judicial Circuit Court Hon. John T. Gibbons and Emily Behnke, Deputy Court Administrator The Wellness Track identifies individuals charged with misdemeanor offenses that have behavioral health needs through reviewing case information and conducting screenings while attending Initial Appearance Court and misdemeanor court hearings. Follow-up case management services are provided.
Friday, March 1, 2024

Civil Court Pathways to Outpatient Mental Health Care Cook County Circuit Court Hon. Maureen Ward Kirby and Michelle Luburic, Assistant State’s Attorney Involuntary Outpatient Admission and Agreed Care and Custody Orders are two civil court ordered mechanisms that authorize the judicial system to commit eligible individuals with severe psychiatric disorders to mental health intervention in the community. Learn how to incorporate these strategies into your toolbox of interventions.
Friday, April 5, 2024

Moral Reconation Therapy and the Court 22nd Judicial Circuit Court 22nd Judicial Circuit Staff (Panel) Moral Reconation Therapy-MRT® is an effective systematic, cognitive-behavioral approach that treats a wide range of issues including substance abuse, domestic violence, trauma, parenting, job skills, and other issues. Hear how the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court has incorporated MRT in probation case planning, problem-solving courts, and sentencing orders.
Friday, May 3, 2024

Developing and Facilitating a Court-led Justice and Behavioral Health Coordinating Council   Hon. Lindsay Parkhurst (21st Judicial Circuit Court), Hon. Janet Holmgren (17th Circuit) As leaders of their courts and communities, judges are in a unique position to encourage local practices aimed at improving responses to individuals with mental health and co-occurring substance use disorders. Current leaders will discuss the experience and impact of multidisciplinary convenings.
June/July: SUMMER BREAK……………………………………………………………………………….
Friday, August 2, 2024


Court Diagnostic Center 16th Judicial Circuit Court (Kane County) Dr. Alexandra Tsang, Director The Kane County Diagnostic Center is the Psychology Department for the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit. It provides psychological services to juvenile and adult offenders, which include: diagnostic evaluations, crisis intervention and individual, group and family psychotherapy.
Friday September 6, 2024

Take Action Today Inc. (Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Use Liaisons and Peer Support) 2nd Judicial Circuit Court Mike Tyson, CEO Take Action Today, Inc. This project capitalizes on the emergence of a peer-led workforce to promote engagement by justice-involved participants in clinical and community-based primary and mental health services that constitute a recovery-oriented system of care.
Friday, October 4, 2024


Facilitating In-House Cognitive Outreach Groups and a Mental Health Caseload 19th Judicial Circuit Court Jeff Ross, Assistant Director, Lake County Adult Probation Services The goals of the program are to increase the number of high-risk clients who successfully complete probation, reduce recidivism, and improve clients’ abilities to take control of their thoughts, behaviors, and lives.

 Note: These educational events have not been approved for continuing education credits