My Turn: I am alive today because of mental health court
Re “An alternative path” (Monitor front page, March 12), the article about mental health court and the positive effect it has on the judicial system:
I have been a participant in mental health court since late summer 2012. I was in the health-care field for 15 years when I lost my job in 2010. After that, my mental illness became uncontrolled. Some of my diagnoses are major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Mental health court was an option the prosecutor offered when I was in the courtroom on a theft charge, my third offense. It was the best choice I have made in my life because program manager Robert Dumond and his interns truly saved my life.
At first, I was terrified to be there and unable to answer even the simplest questions or look anybody in the face. I was living my life afraid of everything.
Not long after beginning the process of mental health court, I tried to take my life and was placed for a couple of weeks in the intensive care unit. At first I was kept in a medically induced coma to save my brain function. I was then sent to New Hampshire Hospital. Dumond and the interns were there to visit from Day 1. For the first time in my life I didn’t feel alone or uncared for. The interns make you feel like everything you say or feel matters. They are unpaid but put all their effort into what is best for every participant. The encouragement and support they offer has changed my life.
For most of my life I was unable to ask for help or even admit to others that there was anything wrong outside of counseling. I know I would not be here alive if it wasn’t for mental health court. They have offered me the guidance I needed to see my life in a better aspect. They have helped me to receive services at Riverbend Community Mental Health, such as case management, that I never knew were available. Through my weekly appointments I have began to open up and talk about how my mental illness affects me. They continue to help me find better ways to cope with my life and mental illness.
Attending court weekly is not pleasant. You are guided and held accountable for your actions by Judge Gerard Boyle, Dumond and the prosecutors at each court session. They communicate with each other on all the cases and discuss the best direction or services for each of us as individuals. Where else would you be able to receive such caring and needed services, especially involving the criminal justice system? My only other option was incarceration. I know I would have been lost in the system with little mental health care, if any. My illness would have declined instead of improved as it has. My desire to live would have been zero if I was placed in jail.
Mental health court holds you accountable for your actions that brought you into the court system and helps you to learn how to better take care of yourself and your mental illness so as not to re-offend. I owe my life to all those involved in the mental health court process.
(Nicole Aubert lives in Concord.)