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Diversion to What? Evidence-Based Mental Health Services that Prevent Needless Incarceration

Investing in community-based mental health services provides numerous benefits, including a reduction in law enforcement intervention and incarceration. These services also promote the integration of people with mental health disabilities into their communities, allowing them to have opportunities to work, a place to call home, and support throughout the day.

This fact sheet describes essential and effective community services that should be part of every community’s mental health system. It also describes the evidence that these services decrease the incarceration and institutionalization of individuals with mental health disabilities. When communities provide these services in sufficient amounts and ensure that there is ongoing coordination between the criminal and mental health systems, they will dramatically reduce the damaging and costly cycling of people with mental health disabilities in and out of jails, emergency rooms, hospitals, and shelters.

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