About the Mental Health Court

Learn more about why we exist and how we serve Nashvillians who struggle with mental health challenges.

About the Mental Health Court

In July 2000, the General Sessions Court was granted the Edward Byrne Memorial Grant to establish a Mental Health Court for Davidson County. This court, operational since January 2001, is among the few in the nation. Judge Melissa Blackburn oversees it, focusing on defendants with severe mental illnesses who struggle within the traditional criminal justice system.


Studies indicate that those with mental illnesses fare poorly in standard justice settings, leading to extended incarceration. To address this, the Mental Health Court diverts non-violent offenders with mental health issues towards treatment. The court involves various stakeholders, such as mental health providers, substance abuse experts, vocational trainers, and more, monitoring progress through treatment plans and regular hearings.


Over 450 participants have successfully completed the program, which aims to break the cycle of incarceration and relapse among those with mental health problems. Roughly 15% of inmates in Nashville’s jail have mental health disorders, making the jail a significant mental health services provider in the county. These issues contribute to homelessness, stigmatization, and repeated criminal involvement.


The Mental Health Court has operated for over two decades, effectively reducing recidivism and jail overcrowding. Re-arrest rates within a year of program completion stand at 8%, compared to over 50% in the traditional justice system. This court provides a specialized point of contact for mentally ill offenders, ensuring a dedicated team of professionals including a judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, and mental health specialist.


The Davidson County Mental Health Court has been a crucial support system for vulnerable individuals for more than 20 years, helping them turn their lives around and offering an innovative response to the challenges posed by mental health issues in the justice system.

Make a Donation

The Davidson County Mental Health and Veterans Court Assistance Foundation was created in 2014 to provide financial and volunteer support to the work of the Veterans and Mental Health Courts in Nashville. The Foundation is a federally recognized 501-c3 charitable organization, and contributions to the foundation are tax deductible.


Since its creation, the foundation has expanded the reach of service to include counseling and therapy, housing assistance, subsidizing oral and dental health, and numerous other initiatives to assist the populations we serve. You can be a part of helping the court with our mission as a volunteer, a mentor, or with a financial contribution.

Join Kroger’s Community Rewards

The Kroger Community Rewards program allows customers to select a community organization to receive points earned through everyday grocery purchases. It doesn’t take away from personal points earned but simply allows your purchases to ALSO earn points for the Foundation.

Select the Davidson County Mental Health and Veterans Court Assistance Foundation as the recipient of your Kroger Community Rewards points on your online account, and start earning today!


How to select the foundation to receive your support:

  • Go to krogercommunityrewards.com.
  • Log in if you already have an account associated with your Kroger Plus card.  If not, simply create an account.
  • Once logged in, click “Community” and then “Community Rewards.”
  • Click “Enroll Now.”
  • Input or confirm your information.
  • Enter our Organization Number (18634) or our name, “Davidson County Mental Health and Veterans Court,” then select it from the list and click on “Enroll.”
  • To verify that you enrolled correctly, scroll down and look for our name listed under “Community Rewards” at the bottom of the page.
  • Now start shopping! Make sure to swipe your card each time!

Meet Our Board

We are honored to have respected and accomplished members of the Nashville community serving on the Foundation Board:

Robert D. Tuke, USMC (Ret.)


The Honorable Melissa Blackburn

Davidson County Mental Health Court

Ms. Michele Buc, MSC

Nashville State University

The Honorable Dan Eisenstein

Former Judge
Davidson County Mental Health Court

Mr. Bill Freeman

Freeman Webb Company

Theodora Pinnock, M.D.

Meharry Medical College

The Honorable Deborah Taylor-Tate

Former Director
Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

Ms. Judith Tackett

Elder Law of Nashville Tackett Consulting LLC

Mr. Paul Tennisson

Senior Associate Attorney at Hall Booth Smith, P.C.

Ms. Mary Littleton

Accurate Mortgage Group

Brig. Gen.Eden Murrie, MBA (Ret.)

Chief Executive Officer
Operation Stand Down Tennessee
US Air Force Veteran

* As a member of the Judiciary, Judge Blackburn is prohibited from direct involvement with soliciting or accepting donations to the Foundation (Rule 10, Tennessee Code of Judicial Conduct). Questions concerning compliance with Tennessee law may be directed to  DavidsonMHC@gmail.com

Frequently Asked Questions

Nashville’s Mental Health Court has been in existence since 2001. Since then, over 450 Nashvillians have successfully completed the program. MHC is a program for people who have committed crimes and have a diagnosis of a severe and persistent mental illness to receive enhanced supervision and treatment in a voluntary program rather than be trapped in the traditional justice system not equipped to address their special needs.

In addition to a mental health diagnosis, participants may have substance abuse and/or alcohol issues. The Judge and staff of the MHC design a plan for recovery and guide participants toward resources to improve their mental, physical, emotional, and financial situation.

Successful graduates of the court program may be eligible to have their charges dismissed or reduced and have their criminal record expunged.

Your attorney, family member or another court may request that the court assess you for consideration to be accepted in the MHC program. If you are eligible to apply, they will explain program requirements and how your charges will possibly be handled upon completion. Attorneys must complete an application to include specific documents necessary for their client to be considered. Your attorney, or if you are an attorney, should reference the Attorney page to learn more.

There is no cost to participate in MHC.  Any pending fines or court costs related to charge/s are not a part of the MHC. 

Participants of the MHC program will be placed into a probationary status while in the program, rather than sent to jail. The MHC provides the structure and responsibility many struggle with as they work toward recovery.

As a participant in MHC, you may have access to resources that can assist in dealing with emotional issues, physical problems and financial assistance. Once the program is successfully completed, the charges that you entered with will be addressed and, depending on the circumstances, may be reduced or dismissed.

The Davidson County Mental Health Court is located in Courtroom 3-B of the Justice A.A. Birch Courthouse at 408 2nd Avenue North, Nashville 37219. Participants meet with MHC staff in Suite 100 of the Ben West Building next door to the courthouse. The court docket takes place every Tuesday 1:00pm and some Fridays at 8:00am. You can reach the MHC at 615.862.8320.

See How We Can Help Today

The Davidson County Mental Health Court is committed to assisting clients in reasserting control of their lives and managing their mental health. Contact us today to see how we can help you or someone you know.