Treatment Court members discuss how to navigate COVID-19 challenges

HELENA – Members of Montana’s treatment court program met for the first time since the start of the pandemic at the Helena American Legion to discuss the best ways to get Montanans help during these isolated times.

Representatives from Great Falls and Missoula treatment courts were in attendance to discuss concerns of COVID-19 and its impact on Montanans participating in treatment court programs.

“The ones that came into the program right before the pandemic, we just don’t have that by in with them and the trust so it’s been really difficult with our group of people,” says Layla Eichler, First Judicial District Treatment Court Coordinator.

The pandemic has been affecting many with mental health issues and treatment courts abilities to operate, so the discussion helps them look at all aspects of the program.

“We do stuff once a week but we have a very limited time to go over 25 people to see what they are doing and talk about them and their families, but we never have a chance to talk about the big picture,” says Eichler.

Senator Steve Daines was the host of the event and says the discussion will help treatment court members in the future.

“We want to capture these learnings so that we can improve the way we handle future pandemics because there’s been a really severe price paid with the isolation, distancing because these men and women who are struggling with drug addiction issues, alcohol issues its made it worse and hasn’t made it better,” says Daines.

Representatives say the roundtable helped them gather the information they needed to keep the program moving forward.