Superior Court Mental Health Court Launches Peer Mentor Program
Superior Court Mental Health Court launched its Peer Mentor Program in January 2014. A collaboration between the Superior Court, the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH), and the Mental Health Association in Delaware (MHA), this new initiative should significantly enhance the services provided by the Superior Court Mental Health Court team.
Evidence-based best practices indicate that peer mentor programs are a necessary component of the most successful mental health courts. Peer mentors provide valuable assistance to the participants by offering additional moral and practical support and helping participants navigate their way through probation or diversion programs. They can serve as a sounding board and a source of encouragement to participants as mentors are familiar with the myriad issues that beset participants. Mentors are selected based on their personal experience with mental health issues and are thus familiar with the struggles and challenges faced by Mental Health Court participants.
The Superior Court Mental Health Court Peer Support Coordinator is June Benson. The Peer Support Specialists are Michele Owens, Brittani Shells, and Jennifer Whitehead. This program would not have been possible without the sup-port of President Judge Vaughn, who was receptive to this initiative, and the invaluable contributions provided by Director Kevin Huckshorn (DSAMH); Director James Lafferty (MHA); former Criminal Justice Council Executive Director Drewry Fennell; and Executive Director Dr. Joshua Thomas-Acker of the Delaware National Alliance on Mental Illness in Delaware.