DeKalb Mental Health Court to raise money to help defendants get - CBS46 News

DeKalb Mental Health Court to raise money to help defendants get back on track

Posted: Updated:

Mental health issues have been top of mind lately from politics to schools to crimes. Now one court in Dekalb County is trying to raise money to help defendants get on the right track with treatment.

The Mental Health Court in DeKalb is one of the oldest of its kind. Judges tell CBS46 they're seeing more and more young people in their 20s coming in with mental health concerns. They're now trying to raise money to help them with basic needs beyond treatment.

Lori Brickman says six years ago she was almost hopeless. Her then college-aged son Jason had just suffered a psychotic break.

"Something was clearly wrong with him and the only thought that went through my head as a mother was to figure out what was wrong," said Lori Brickman, Vice Chair DeKalb Criminal Justice Treatment Coalition.

She didn't know what to do so she called the police. Jason was arrested.

"Something clicked in me that said 'look, you've got two choices here. You can either sink or swim.' Sometimes you tread water for a while and I think that is what I did for a while, but at some point you can't just survive a situation, you have to live and the only way to do that is to ask help," said Brickman.

Jason was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was sent to the DeKalb Mental Health Court, which takes misdemeanor cases and focuses on treatment plans. It's where she met Judge Rhathelia Stroud and began to work with the courts

"What we really do think is if you get the help early on then maybe some things can be averted," said "Rhathelia Stroud, Presiding Judge, DeKalb County  Misdemeanor Mental Health Court.

Right now, Stroud says their state and county funding doesn't cover basic needs like toiletries, clothes and even rent for many defendants who are young and indigent.

"We are seeing a lot of the young population that are coming into the courts for the first time ever having a break and it being very difficult in terms of acceptance," said Stroud.

Tuesday, the court's foundation event Full Court Press brought in the police and first responders who can answer those desperate calls from parents like Lori. They'll be competing in a basketball tournament to raise money for the court's foundation, hoping to break the stigmas and lend much-needed support.

The fundraiser basketball game will be April 21-22 at the downtown Decatur Recreation Center. All proceeds will benefit the foundation's support efforts.

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Connect with CBS46