Gaining tools to help those in need

By Jo Mathis
Legal News

About 80 professionals who often interact with the public learned how to better assist people with mental health issues at the Mental Health Summit: Identifying Disorders and Resources 2011.

Held last week in Redford, the event was sponsored by the Commission on Children’s Issues and Redford Township District Judges Karen Khali and Charlotte Wirth.

The goal of the panel discussions was to help local and area courts, police and school leaders who have contact with troubled individuals or families recognize the signs of mental illness, interact properly with someone who may be having a problem, and know what resources are available to help.

As the need for mental health assistance is increasing, the resources available are decreasing, said Khalil, who is chief judge of the Seventeenth District Court.

She said it used to be that if someone who was in the criminal justice system needed treatment, he or she would be sent to the hospital.

Now they’re being housed in the jail system.

“While we are seeing more serious types of problems in greater numbers than ever before, we are also operating with less resources,” Khalil said. “This program assisted us in developing some of the basic tools we need to assist those we are trying to help or re-integrate once in the system.”

Representatives from the Seventeenth District Court, the Commission on Children’s Issues, Lincoln Behavioral Services and Redford Union Schools worked together on the event.

Khalil said she and Wirth were especially pleased that some of their colleagues from neighboring courts and the Wayne County Circuit Court Juvenile Division, as well as their staff people, were able to join them for the program.

The program was well received by attendees, Khalil said.

“The information provided by the panelists should continue to assist those who were in attendance as they perform their work,” she said, “whether in law enforcement, public safety, in the courts, or in the schools by providing them with some of the necessary tools to assist those who may be in need of help due to a mental health problem.”

The Commission on Children’s Issues was formed in 1993 to address the rising rate of juvenile delinquency in Redford Township.