mental health treatment | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Corrections

Mental health treatment is a court-ordered condition mandating an individual to seek evaluation and treatment for a mental disorder.

When the court encounters a case involving a defendant with a mental disorder, a unique set of considerations comes into play. The defendant might have committed a crime influenced by their disorder, which can make the situation complex. Here, the court can order mental health treatment. This treatment is more than punishment; it’s a way to address the root of the problem and help the individual regain their mental health.

What is Involved?

Mental health treatment under a court order can involve a range of actions. The purpose is to provide a comprehensive approach to treat the mental disorder and prevent future offenses.

Psychiatric and Psychological Evaluations

A crucial first step in mental health treatment is psychiatric and psychological evaluations. These evaluations are detailed assessments done by mental health professionals. They aim to understand the individual’s mental health, their disorder, and its severity. These evaluations form the basis for the rest of the treatment plan.

Sex Offense-Specific Evaluations

In some cases, the court might order sex offense-specific evaluations. This is especially relevant when the person has committed a sex-related crime. These evaluations aim to understand the offender’s actions, triggers, and risk of reoffending.

Inpatient or Outpatient Counseling

Following evaluations, the treatment plan may involve inpatient or outpatient counseling. Inpatient counseling involves staying at a mental health facility for a certain period. Here, the individual receives round-the-clock care and structured therapy. Outpatient counseling means the person can stay at home but must attend regular therapy sessions at a clinic or hospital.


Medication is often a crucial part of mental health treatment. Psychiatrists may prescribe drugs to manage symptoms of the disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or psychosis. These medications can make a significant difference in the person’s mental health and help them manage their condition better.

What is the Purpose of Court-Ordered Mental Health Treatment?

The goal of court-ordered mental health treatment is twofold. First, it aims to protect society by reducing the risk of the person reoffending. By addressing the mental health issues that may have contributed to criminal behavior, the treatment can help prevent future crimes.

Second, the treatment seeks to help the individual. Providing access to mental health resources, supports the person’s journey towards mental wellness. This compassion-based approach recognizes that mental disorders are illnesses needing treatment, not a basis for punishment.


In conclusion, court-ordered treatment is a crucial tool in the justice system. It allows courts to address the underlying mental health issues often involved in criminal behavior. By requiring psychiatric and psychological evaluations, inpatient or outpatient counseling, and medication, the courts aim to reduce reoffending and support the individual’s mental health recovery. It’s a win-win strategy – a safer society and improved lives for individuals struggling with mental disorders.

[ Glossary ]

Last Modified: 06/04/2023

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