The Trial Court should provide all judges and court personnel with or access to regular continuing education and training about substance use disorders, mental health conditions, and the impact of trauma on these conditions.
All judges and court personnel should understand and recognize: (a) the pervasiveness of substance use disorder, mental health conditions, and co-occurring disorders; (b) the implications of stigma; (c) the impact of adverse childhood experiences, trauma, and secondary trauma; (d) the signs of substance use, mental health, and co-occurring disorders, (e) the potential for overdose and suicide; and (f) the need to manage high stress in the courtroom. Staff members in relevant roles should have opportunities for continuing education on (a) the need for quality screenings and assessments for substance use disorders, mental health conditions, and trauma; (b) the basics of treatment and recovery support for substance use disorders, mental health conditions, and co-occurring disorders, and the importance of using only evidence-based strategies to address these issues; (c) the effect of substance use disorders, mental health conditions, and co-occurring disorders on the entire family unit; and (d) emerging trends. The Trial Court should also provide education on the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the requirements of the federal regulation, 42 C.F.R.§ 2.1 et seq.,(Part 2, Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records).8
In providing education, the Trial Court should draw on resources and recommendations from state and national organizations dedicated to behavioral health issues, including the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services of the Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Department of Mental Health (DMH).
Appropriate training, resources, and curricula should be made available to those judges, clerks, and court personnel whose roles make such training relevant. Training and education should be regular and ongoing and should be aligned with emerging science on evidence-based best practices.
Contact for Standards on Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health Conditions: Standard III. Continuing education and training for judges and all court personnel
Francis V. Kenneally, Clerk
Maura S. Doyle, Clerk
Jennifer Donahue, Public Information Officer