Mental Health Court

Kara Celsky, Behavioral Health Unit Program Specialist
Phone: (717) 780-6702
Fax: (717) 780-6767

Mission Statement:

The mission of the Dauphin County Mental Health Court is to promote public safety by keeping participants with serious mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders safe and accountable as they engage in necessary treatment. This will ensure the participant begins the process of recovery and will result in an increase in safety and security for the residents of Dauphin County through lower rates of recidivism.


The Dauphin County Mental Health Court is designed to offer offenders with serious mental illness the opportunity for treatment, typically combined with restrictive probation, in lieu of jail time. Offenders can be referred to the program by police officers, Magisterial District Judges, attorneys, probation officers, case managers, prison staff, judges, family members, and other agencies or individuals who come into contact with an offender who might qualify for the program.

Participation in Mental Health Court is voluntary.  Informed consent will be obtained for evaluation and consideration by the Court Team. 

The Dauphin County Mental Health Court has two possible sentencing tracks: 1) hybrid-incentive (post-plea/pre-sentence) and 2) standard (post-plea/post-sentence).

For participants whose cases are on the hybrid-incentive track, they will plead guilty to the charges as filed. They will be required to waive Rule 591 (relating to withdrawal of guilty plea) and 704 (sentencing within 90 days of entry of guilty plea). They will be sentenced on at least one of the lower-level offenses. Sentencing on the remaining counts will be deferred pending completion of the Mental Health Court program. Upon successful completion of the Mental Health Court program, including payments of fines, costs, and restitution, the more serious charge will be modified (reduced or dismissed, depending on the plea agreement).

For participants whose cases are on the standard track, successful completion of Mental Health Court program, including payments of fines, costs, and restitution, may result in the reduction or termination of any remaining supervision; however, the charges will remain the same.

An offender accepted into Mental Health Court is supervised by a specialized mental health probation officer through Dauphin County Adult Probation and Parole Services.  In addition, he/she is provided with a mental health case manager through the Case Management Unit. Working together, this team of individuals assists the offender under Mental Health Court supervision by assessing service needs and availability of resources while monitoring offender compliance with services and participation in treatment/supervision plans.

The Mental Health Court program is administered by the Mental Health Court Team. This team reviews all referred cases and any other pertinent information before determining whether to approve a referral for program participation.  Additionally, the team meets weekly to review the progress of all program participants until completion of the program.

Mental Health Court is a high-intensity program, initially requiring weekly appearances before the Mental Health Court Judge; completion of the Court-ordered treatment program; an intense level of supervision by probation officers; adherence to mental health treatment; around-the-clock monitoring for drug/alcohol use; and compliance with all other directives issued by the Court. The core of the Mental Health Court is this heightened level of judicial involvement and intensive probation supervision coupled with rigorous treatment to address mental health issues. The Mental Health Court uses the 10 Essential Elements of Mental Health Court and the 10 Key Components of Drug Courts as the basis for its guiding principles. This program strives to provide structure and treatment, rather than incarceration, to eligible offenders wishing to participate after they have accepted responsibility for their actions.

*Applicants and Attorneys – Please be Advised*

After the Mental Health Court Referral is submitted, the applicant MUST call the Case Management Unit to obtain a Mental Health Assessment. This agency can be reached by calling: (717) 232-8761.


Mental Health Court Referral Form (2022)


Mental Health Court Pamphlet (2022)

Mental Health Court Participant Handbook

If applicable, the applicant MUST also call the Dauphin County Department of Drug & Alcohol Services to obtain a Drug & Alcohol Evaluation. This agency can be reached by calling: (717) 635-2254. Please ask to speak with Nitarah Lannacone. If Ms. Lannacone is not available, please leave a message for her and she will return your call as soon as possible.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to make and keep this/these appointment(s). The Mental Health Court application process CANNOT move forward until this is completed.

Thank you for your cooperation with this matter.

Additional Resources

Suicide Prevention Resources