Though in most places in the world, family courts exist to help resolve conflicts and make difficult decisions nevertheless designed to create the best possible good in complex situations, family court experiences themselves are rarely if ever enjoyed by those who are obliged to attend. In fact, many such experiences are marked by emotional and mental difficulties of an exceptional nature, and the path toward recovery from family break-ups, re-structuring, and other issues may be long. Certainly, however, interactions with family court should be able to provide a minimum of care, capable of helping people establish happier and healthier lives. Such is the concern of a family court judge in New Zealand, who recently spoke out against inadequate services and understanding which has led to an alarming 18 suicides among family court visitors in the space of a year.
Noting that domestic violence, mental health issues, and other concerns are often encountered in the family court setting, the judge states that those working within the judicial system should be better equipped to identify people who may be in need of specialized care, and that greater, more accessible services should be created to not only meet with clients, but to help them stay enrolled in support programs. Many people who experience traumatic emotional events in family courts do not seek treatment, or, if they do, a substantial number drop out of programs early. By making bold calls for better mental health measures, the judge may inspire court systems around the world to take mental health into greater consideration. With the right attention and professional, heartfelt care, family courts may one day greater embody the mission of service for which they were originally established.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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