Mental Health, Substance Use Disorder, and the Justice System
Riverside Community Care provides the behavioral health and human services link in the MassHealth Behavioral Health Supports for Justice-Involved Individuals (BH-JI) program, affiliated with the criminal justice system in Norfolk County.
The BH-JI program goals are to:
- Establish a sustainable model to engage justice-involved individuals with mental health and substance use disorder conditions
- Support effective, efficient healthcare utilization to improve health outcomes and decrease fatal overdoses
- Connect eligible individuals to the vital support and community resources necessary in the crucial weeks and months following release
By providing the vital links among individuals, support services, and the justice system, we reach the justice-involved population at the moments just before and after release, or before a person in trouble is incarcerated –creating a model for healthier lives and communities.
Court and Community Relationships
Riverside has deep connections with the Norfolk County House of Correction and other Department of Correction facilities, probation offices, drug courts, police and fire departments, ambulances services, hospital emergency departments, and primary care providers. We have clinicians embedded in three Norfolk County police departments where they specialize in assessment, intervention, and referrals, to divert people away from incarceration whenever possible.
A Riverside BH-JI navigator coordinates with court and correctional facility officials to obtain referrals and connect with individuals. In one-on-one or group “in-reach” sessions at facilities, the navigator provides a detailed explanation of the program so people nearing release understand the value of support and are more likely to accept and fully engage with services.
With each individual we conduct a comprehensive “bio/psychosocial” assessment, answering critical questions around family and community support, education and employment prospects, current legal issues, and overall physical and mental health.
Throughout, the guiding principle is value and respect for the unique individual we are working with. They are the driving force in identifying areas they feel are most important to address.
We set up immediate appointments with recovery specialists and other services to integrate care and address barriers such as physical healthcare, transportation, housing, and food. Statistically, if a person makes it to an appointment within a week or so following release from jail, they are far more likely to continue to engage in recovery.
Experience Enhances BH-JI Initiatives
Riverside draws on decades of experience gained in dozens of programs that serve individuals at the nexus of mental illness, substance use, and co-occurring disorders – often found in people who end up in the justice system:
- Outpatient care and medication management for complex conditions
- Mobile Emergency Services teams available 24/7
- Community Crisis Stabilization settings to avert inpatient psychiatric hospitalization
- Connect2Recovery substance use services
- Adult Community Crisis Services (ACCS)
- Program for Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) for persistent mental health challenges.
For more information about the BH-JI program, please call 781-234-1650 or email BHJI@riversidecc.org.