Edmonton court blends law with psychology to find ‘meaningful resolution’ for at-risk Albertans


The mental health court of Edmonton is more important than ever because many Albertans face mental difficulties in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic.

“It gives us a chance to provide more meaningful types of resolutions,” said Amna Qureshi, employee advocate for Legal Aid Alberta.

The Edmonton Mental Health Court opened in 2018 as a pilot project. It is meant to help people suffering from mental health issues better navigate the justice system.

“This is the first of its kind in Alberta – but not the first of its kind in Canada,” Qureshi said. “It is modeled after very successful mental health courts elsewhere in the country, Like Toronto.

Edmonton court is open to those who have been charged with a criminal offense and who also have mental illnesses such as brain injuries, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder or bipolar disorder and major depression.

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Qureshi said that once a client is sent to court by a judge, they will work with not only legal authorities such as judges and lawyers, but also psychiatrists, nurses and social services.

“It’s really a problem-solving court,” she said. “We call it a medical court. It is a form of medical justice.

“This takes into account the fact that many of the most vulnerable of the community, who are in conflict with the law, often struggle with mental issues.”

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He said the court also worked to help on issues such as homelessness, poverty, addictions and trauma.

“It is an approach – in a holistic way – to take about all these other factors or issues that people may struggle at the same time as perhaps in conflict with the law.

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“It gives us a chance to provide more meaningful types of resolutions.”

There are some limitations of qualifying for a mental health court; He is charged with murder, drug prosecution and violation of long-term criminal orders.

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Qureshi said the court is a collaborative discussion contrary to the traditional court experience.

“Everyone works together, taking all these factors into account, the person who comes before us can struggle,” she said. “We meet people where they are, and that can mean helping them with basic needs like food, shelter. We take care, or try and focus our attention on the issues that a At the same time deal with their legal issues.

“We are able to see where they are at, and come up as a team with an offer … and make sure they are not set for failure.”

More information about Edmonton’s Mental Health Court Can be found online, Or through Legal Aid Alberta.


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