How do I get into and complete mental health diversion?

Mental health diversion is a program for people with mental health issues who have been charged with a minor criminal .

Each courthouse has a different way of applying for mental health diversion. But no matter where you are, you can only participate in mental health diversion if the Crown agrees. If the Crown hasn't offered you mental health diversion, you or your lawyer can try to convince the Crown that you should get it.

How mental health diversion works

Mental health diversion is when the Crown agrees to withdraw your charges if you show that you're effectively dealing with your mental health issues. This often means that you participate in a program through the mental health court or you get mental health treatment.

Mental health diversion is voluntary. The Crown can't force you to agree. If you prefer the regular court process, you can say no to mental health diversion. Some people prefer the regular court process because it is usually faster. A lawyer can tell you which process is better in your case.

If you agree to participate in mental health diversion, you don't have to or have a . But you must admit that you have a mental health issue. And you must also agree to take responsibility for the crime you're charged with.

Who qualifies for mental health diversion?

Mental health diversion is for people whose mental health is part of the reason they committed a crime. It helps people improve their mental health issues instead of punishing them.

Common examples of mental health issues experienced by people who are approved for diversion are: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a first episode of psychosis, among others. Mental health diversion may also be available if you have a cognitive disability or brain injury.

In criminal law, mental health diversion is not available for those who only suffer from drug or alcohol addiction. But some courts also offer options for people experiencing issues with drug or alcohol addiction.

Mental health diversion is only available for minor offences. These are crimes that don't involve serious violence or large amounts of money.

What mental health diversion involves

Mental health diversion looks different depending on where you live, your mental health issues, and the resources or services you need to improve your mental health.

But generally, you will have to:

  • go to court when you are scheduled to,
  • follow the direction of your mental health court worker or your lawyer about getting treatment and attending programs in the community, and
  • try your best not to get more criminal charges.

Get help

You should speak to a lawyer about your options. In many courthouses, there are also mental health court workers and who you can talk to about your options. Court staff can tell you if there is a mental health office in your courthouse.

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