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Commissioners Establish Comal County Mental Health Court, Judge Wigington to Preside

County Court at Law #3 Judge Deborah Wigington, left, will preside over the new Comal County Mental Health Court. Comal County District Attorney Jennifer Tharp, right, said the court will provide desperately needed help for people suffering from mental illness. Image courtesy of Comal County.

Comal County commissioners unanimously approved a resolution Thursday establishing a Mental Health Court for residents suffering from mental illness.

The vote at their weekly meeting followed a presentation by Comal County Criminal District Attorney Jennifer Tharp and County Court at Law #3 Judge Deborah Wigington, who will preside over the new court.

Wigington expects to hear cases before the end of 2021.

The new court will offer a five-phase program for adults diagnosed with mental illness who face criminal misdemeanor charges, and a multi-phase program for adults suffering from mental illness who face civil charges but do not have associated criminal charges.

“Today is an exciting day for our community,” said Comal County Criminal District Attorney Jennifer Tharp. “Through Judge Wigington’s Mental Health Court, we are going to be able to provide desperately needed help and resources for individuals suffering from mental illness.

“This court will provide additional tools and resources for mental-health consumers in the criminal justice system, as well as providing stability through court-ordered outpatient and inpatient mental health treatment for individuals prior to entering the criminal justice system,” she said.

Wigington said she is honored to be selected to preside over the county’s new Mental Health Court.

“By providing needed resources, treatment, and judicial intervention, the court will bring stability and success to participants and their families,” she said. “I am overwhelmed by the support the court has already received from community partners and look forward to the community’s involvement in the success of the court.”

Tharp presented sobering statistics about the prevalence of mental illness in society to commissioners.

She said Texas ranks 50th out of 51 states in overall access to mental healthcare. Only one in seven Texas children with major depression receives consistent treatment — almost half the national average.

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