Quick Facts

Participants in the Nova Scotia Mental Health Court Program must:

  ~ Acknowledge or Plead Guilty to their offence(s);
  ~ Have a Serious Mental Health Disorder that is related to their offences(s);
  ~ Attend Court on a regular basis (sometimes weekly);
  ~ Attend all professional appointments;
  ~ Take all medications prescribed by treatment provider(s);
  ~ Abstain from drugs and/or alcohol use, if required, and submit to substance use testing;
  ~ Not drive for at least 1 (one) year if the offence(s) are driving related; and
  ~ Be involved in the Program for at least 1 (one) year.

The Nova Scotia Mental Health Court sits most Thursdays at 1:30 p.m.
in Courtroom #5 at Provincial Court in Dartmouth, 277 Pleasant Street
Telephone: (902)722-1040

For a printable version of the information above, CLICK HERE >>


Mental Health Disorder Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for consideration in the Nova Scotia Mental Health Court Program, applicants must have a mental disorder. The Mental Health Court defines a mental disorder as a significant disturbance in an individual’s ability to think and/or problem solve, their control over their emotions, and/or their ability to control their behavior. Examples of mental disorders that clearly fit this definition are schizophrenia (or other psychotic disorders), bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder.

Applicants whose sole diagnosis is substance-related will not be considered, nor will applicants whose only diagnosis falls within the spectrum of paraphilic disorders (e.g., pedophilia or exhibitionism). The Mental Health Court may consider individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders or brain injury on a case-by-case basis.

The program may review other cases where there is a diagnosable mental disorder that does not clearly fit the above criteria (e.g. personality disorders or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder). However, these cases will only be reviewed under exceptional circumstances where there is a clear nexus to the offending and reasonable expectation that the intervention of the Mental Health Court will be of benefit. Individuals whose sole diagnosis is Antisocial Personality Disorder will not be considered.

In all cases, an applicant’s acceptance to the Mental Health Court Program will be considered with respect to the Program’s ability to support the individual in the community.

For a printable version of the informatoin above, CLICK HERE >>


Crown Attorney Consent

Among other considerations for a participant’s eligibility to participate in the Mental Health Court Program, is the necessity of having the Crown attorney’s consent. It is the Crown attorney’s role to assess the file from the perspective of public interest and public safety to ensure that risk of public harm is minimized or managed in an acceptable fashion. In some cases, the Crown attorney may not provide consent for a particular applicant to be considered for inclusion in the Program.

Crown attorney consent is separate from eligibility criteria. There are times when, notwithstanding the fact that the applicant meets the eligibility criteria for the court, the Crown attorney may not provide consent. Some factors the Crown may consider are as follows:

~ How serious is the offence?
~ What is the degree of harm resulting from the offence?
~ How dated are the offences?
~ Does the applicant have a history of breaching court orders?
~ Has the accused been before the Mental Health Court in the past? Was the participation successful or unsuccessful?
~ Does the accused have a general history of non-compliance with programming and counseling?
~ Does the accused have a history of non-adherence to prescribed medication recommendations?
~ Does the accused have a lengthy record of related offences?
~ Does the accused have a longstanding history of violent offences or sexual offences?
~ What is the likelihood of criminal recidivism and/or risk of violence?
~ Are there adequate resources to manage the offender’s needs within the community?
~ Will the referral interfere with a scheduled preliminary inquiry or trial date?

For a printable version of the informatoin above,


Sanctions and Rewards System

(Tiered System of Monitoring for MHC Participants)


Individuals should be notified (possibly at the time of signing participation agreement) that there will be expectations for behaviour and follow-thru on programs and failure to do so will likely result in some type of consequence from increased monitoring to directed projects.


When participants sign off on their Support Plan an additional condition should be made explicit that failure to adhere to the conditions and expectations of the plan could result in consequences that can include (but not limited to): increased monitoring, directed projects, curfew/house arrest, bail revocation, requirement of guilty pleas and ultimately termination from the MHC program (see note below).

When the MHC team reviews participant’s progress they should explicitly reference the Support Plan and take note of what elements are being adhered to versus those that are not. This should include reference to attending community support meetings/programming, abstaining from substance use, attending MHC meetings including court appearances, participation in appropriate structured activity, etc. The degree to which a participant (within the limits of their current capabilities) is adhering to their Support Plan will be the basis upon which that individual is placed into one of the following tiers (at this point the tiers are only a decision-making heuristic for assisting the MHC team in determining appropriate interventions):


  Exceeds Expectations Meets Expectations Below Expectations
Description The participant is following the support plan and doing well. There is evidence of ongoing motivation and moderate participation. No major issues with medication compliance, substance abuse, or suspected criminal activity. The participant is mainly following support plan with minimal set-backs. Motivation to participate is fair.

The participant is failing to follow-thru on most, or all of the elements in the Support Plan. The participant shows little/no motivation to be an active participant in the program, is evidencing more substantive issues around med compliance, substance abuse, ongoing criminal activity, meetings are missed regularly.


On positive track to graduation and/or completion.

Continue with direct supervision and monitoring of support plan.

Consider entering guilty pleas or removal from the MHC program.

Possible MHC Response
1. Placed toward front of docket on MHC court appearances.
2. Increase length of time between formal meetings with MHC team and appearances in MHC.
3. Off Substance Use Screen (SUS – see below)
4. No restrictions on liberty (i.e., curfew) and no explicit recommendation to account for time.
1. On docket after Tier 1 participants.
2. Maintain/Increase frequency of MHC appearances/appointments.
3. Weekly log book/calendar to account for time to be prepared and reviewed with MHC during appearances/ appointments.
4. Maintain/Increase the SUS.
1. On docket after first two tiers.
2. Increased frequency of visits to MHC.
3. Directed Projects.
4. Enter guilty plea.
5. Bail revocation.
6. Curfew or house arrest.
7. Weekly preparation of itinerary to be prepared and reviewed with MHC team or during court.
8. On the SUS List.
9. Termination

Substance Use Screening List (SUS)
Participants on the SUS List will be directed by the MHC Probation Officer to report for ‘Substance Use Screening’, testing days will vary.

If participant is advised that they must attend for substance screening on a particular day, failure to attend will be treated as a breach of their Support Plan and dealt with as per table above.

Substance Use ~ criteria for determining whether to test for substance use or not and look at pleas on the front end:
  ~ Differentiate purpose of use - Addiction or Recreation
  ~ Is the Index Offence a result of substance use (i.e.: DUI vs Theft)
  ~ Does the Participant have a history of offences that involve substance use
  ~ Is the substance use affecting their mental stability

Front of Docket Placement
Decrease Court Appearance Dates
No Drug Screening Appointments
Decrease in Drug Screening Appointments
Decrease in Appointments with MHC Team
No Weekly Log Book
Artwork/Poem for Court Room Wall
Positive Personal Progress Remarks
Removal of Weekly/Biweekly Call-ins to MHC
No Directed Projects
Decrease Treatment Groups
Lower Charges or Dismissal of Charges
Decrease/Remove Curfew
No House Arrest

End of Docket Placement
Increase Court Appearance Dates
Drug Screening Appointments
Increase in Drug Screening Appointments
Increase in Appointments with MHC Team
Weekly Log Book
Weekly Itinerary (review with MHC Team or Judge) Announce negative feedback in court
Weekly/Biweekly Calls-ins to MHC Office
Directed Projects
Re-visit/Increase Treatment Group
Enter Guilty Pleas
Impose/Increase Curfew
House Arrest
Bail Revocation
Termination from the Program

For a printable version of the information above, CLICK HERE >>


Community Work Placement


The Probation Officer will, in every individual case, contact the placement agency prior to offender placement in order to confirm the offender’s suitability.

The Probation Officer will ensure the offender has the appropriate skills to complete the work the Community Work Placement intends to assign.

If specialized safety equipment and procedures are required, it is the Community Work Placement’s responsibility to ensure the offender is provided with the equipment and made fully aware of proper procedures.

The Probation Officer will advise the offender he/she must comply fully with the safety practices of the Community Work Placement and any deviation from these will be grounds for removal from the Community Work Program.

All such pre-placement consultations will be duly noted on the offender case file and any concerns or agreements will be clearly identified.

For a printable version of the informatoin above, CLICK HERE >>


Re-application to the Mental Health Court Program

Any adult (18 years or older) may make an application to the Mental Health Court Program if he or she resides in the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). This is to ensure the Program’s clinicians can do wellness checks at the client’s home, should there be an urgent need to do so. Applicants must also have a substantial connection to the HRM, which must include, but is not limited to, working or attending school in the area, and their mental health support persons and programs must be within the municipal boundaries.

The offence(s) an applicant is charged with must be within the jurisdiction of the Provincial Court. An applicant will be prohibited from making a further application to the Program on the same set of charges that were previously dealt with by the Program, except in special circumstances where additional significant and new information is available and presented through the applicant’s counsel.

Former applicants and participants that make application within one year of completing their involvement with the Program will be required, through their counsel, to provide information to the Court in support of a further application.

If a former applicant or participant has not had any involvement with the Program for more than a year, then the application process will proceed in the normal course.

In all cases, the final decision of admissibility to the Mental Health Court Program rests with the team and requires the consent of the Crown attorney.

For a printable version of the information above, CLICK HERE >>


Court-Monitored Drug Treatment Program

The Mental Health Court also maintains a program that offers alternative criminal sentences for people charged with crimes related to their opioid addiction. For more information, CLICK HERE >>

Mental Health Court Client Feedback Welcomed

The Mental Health Court team wants to hear from program participants about their experiences with the Court. There are links to two different surveys below; one covers participants' interaction with the Court's screening process (takes 5 minutes); and the other has to do with participants' experience in the Court itself (takes 15 minutes).

Taking either or both of these surveys is voluntary. Not taking the surveys will have no effect on the participant's care. Survey answers are anonymous and confidential.

You can complete the surveys on-line on the Health Authority's website
(on the last page of both surveys, when you click "DONE", it will be
automatically sent to the Health Authority).


You can complete the surveys on your computer (MS Word) and then save, print, and mail them to the Health Authority (address is on last page).


You can print the surveys and fill them out by hand and then mail
them to the Health Authority (address is on last page).




To print a brochure containing a summary of information about the Mental Health Court Program
and the Court Monitored Drug Treatment Program, CLICK HERE >>


There is a similar Mental Health Court Program currently being piloted in Kentville,
serving Kings and Hants Counties.
For more information,

A Court-Monitored Drug Treatment Program is also being piloted in Kentville.
Find out more about it