The province’s first court to help people with mental health illnesses will open in Dartmouth on Nov. 2. The court was set up to help people who are in greater need of counselling and treatment instead of being held in custody or put in situations that may lead to confrontations. “The government is seeking new ways to help those offenders who have mental health issues,” said Attorney General and Justice Minister Ross Landry, today, Aug. 27. “This court will look at the person and their illness, not just their crime when it comes to administering justice.” Two years of planning of the made-in-Nova Scotia court included input from representatives from police agencies, RCMP, Public Prosecution Service, legal aid, judiciary and several government departments. The specialized court will sit one day a week at the provincial court building. Judge Bill MacDonald will hear the cases which have been recommended by the mental health court team as being eligible for the program. A team of mental health clinicians and lawyers will be at the courthouse to assess potential clients and assist with their needs through counselling and other support. The mental health court program is based on the best practices of other jurisdictions, and is tailored to meet the needs of Nova Scotians.