Mental Health Court Graduate Looks Ahead

Julian (center) with GCB Staff on Graduation Day

Mental Health Court Graduate Looks Ahead

“I saw my rage as passion,” says Julian. “It wasn’t until I started really listening to those who were trying to help me that I began to understand my rage was only reflecting anger.  I had lots of passion – but was channeling it in the wrong way.”

The most recent Hamilton County Mental Health Court (MHC) graduation is its 13th such celebration since the one-year program began in 2003. In partnership with Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health (GCB), Talbert House, Crossroads Center and Court Clinic, Hamilton County MHC has successfully graduated over one hundred individuals, including the ten being recognized today. 

Mental Health Court has been funded by the Hamilton County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board (MHRSB) since the program’s inception, and is the guiding partner in the project. Every graduation, CEO/President Pat Tribbe gives opening remarks and congratulates graduates.

Judge Mallory and Judge Kissinger welcomed the standing-room only courtroom, packed with family, friends, case managers and agency supporters. “I was blessed with the appointment to this docket,” says Judge Mallory.  “My years on the bench had left me somewhat jaded. Presiding over the MHC has renewed my faith in humanity - I am very proud and happy to be a part of this.”

The program provides offenders with a mental illness diagnosis the opportunity to receive alternative sentencing in exchange for increased accountability and mandatory treatment. To qualify for the program, offenders must be Hamilton County residents and have some insight into their mental illness. Each participant volunteers to be part of the court and is given a regimen of check-ups, mental health treatment, and supervision tailored to their illness.

In Julian’s case, he had been picked up on a disorderly conduct/resisting arrest charge in 2016, and had been placed in the state hospital when a case worker there called GCB, suggesting that Julian may be better suited elsewhere.  Staff member Paul Bliss answered the call, and immediately went out to evaluate Julian.  “I saw a bright young man, who was motivated but misdirected. He didn’t belong in jail, and he definitely didn’t belong where he was.  MHC was the perfect solution for him – a place to get him stabilized, treated on put back on track.  He obviously had a ton of potential; he just needed to focus his energy in a positive direction.”

Since that arrest over a year ago, Julian has received accreditation as a Master Trainer from the International Sports Science Association (ISSA), having earned the multiple specialist certifications in strength training disciplines required. 

“This experience with MHC has transformed how I relate to my clients,” he says.  “Now, I look at connecting not only with where they are physically, but how they’re presenting themselves. If their energy is off for whatever reason, we talk about it. My goal is for my client relationships to be long-term, and this new intuitiveness I’ve gained brings us to a whole new level.”

“The MCH program isn’t easy to get into, and isn’t easy to finish,” says Debbie DeMarcus, Mental Health Director for GCB. “Referred clients have to be approved by the prosecuting and defense attorneys, as well as the probation officer, Court Clinic, and the judge.  The requirements are rigorous.”  There are four phases leading to graduation, and each completed phase is recognized in court, encouraging the participants to stay on track.

“There are so many people with mental illness in our jails and prison,” says Debbie. “Mental Health Court plays an important role in trying to solve this nation-wide problem.”

Also a certified Herbal Life distributor, Julian is currently a director working for a local fitness chain.  “I don’t regret anything in my past,” he says.  “I’ve got momentum now, and it’s positive. I’ll keep moving in the right direction.”