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Mental Health Project

The Bankruptcy/Mental Health project has two major components: education and evaluation. The education component seeks to inform lawyers and their clients about the symptoms of mental illnesses and resources for treatment and assistance, and to teach mental health professionals about the court system. Accordingly, the project committee has created a brochure describing mental illnesses and resources that will be distributed through lawyers' offices, at debtor education classes, and at 341 meetings. The committee will also participate in seminars for lawyers, discussing both mental health issues and resources and explaining the many facets of the Bankruptcy/Mental Health project. Finally, the committee will create a seminar for mental health professionals, explaining the court system, the need for expert testimony, and making the professionals comfortable with the idea of testifying in court proceedings.

The second component of the project involves a panel of mental health professionals who have agreed to provide pro bono or low cost evaluations to debtors whose mental health is an issue in their bankruptcy proceeding. These professionals will act as witnesses for the court, rather than as an expert for the debtor, and will provide an evaluation of the debtor's mental state, his or her ability to maintain employment, to make financial decisions, and other information that may be relevant to the case. The committee has drafted a form application for the debtor to submit to the court for referral to the panel. The professional will then provide testimony by way of affidavit, an in-court appearance, or by telephone or videoconference, depending on the circumstances of the case. The court will make efforts to accommodate the professional's schedule to facilitate cooperation between the professions. It is anticipated that the panel will one day be available for informal consultations with counsel, as well.

Resources

Low Cost Mental Health Services