A national program recently introduced in Wichita is helping people with serious mental illness get the support they need through the Sedgwick County Court system.
The Assisted Outpatient Treatment program helps people suffering from anosognosia, which impairs a person from perceiving his or her illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Gerry Lichti coordinates community projects for NAMI Wichita, a local mental illness support group. He says clients have been issued a court order requiring them to follow a mental health treatment plan.
"People associate judges with punishment," he says. "This is a totally different kind of approach where the court says we want to help you benefit from treatment."
Lichti says the outpatient program helps reduce hospitalization and jail time. Intensive services are coordinated with Sedgwick County's Comcare and the district court.