Lubbock’ Office of Dispute Resolution creates national guidelines for incorporating mental health in the mediation process

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 10:23 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock county office of dispute resolutions is innovating ways to incorporate mental health in the mediation process.

Mediation is settling disputes like divorce, or debts outside of a courtroom.

Judge Drue Farmer said Lubbock County is the only county trying criminal cases through mediation first—it’s less money and less adversity.

“We felt like it was just a natural transition in the mediation world. But apparently, it’s a very novel idea,” Farmer said. “When you get into a divorce fight. There’s a lot more going on than just the pots and pans. There’s back hurts and back history, and your mental health really comes into play in all those situations.”

That is why they felt the next step was to include mental health in the process.

“And so we had an opportunity to offer that as a national program, got funding, and were recognized for it. And apparently, this is something really new across the country,” Farmer said.

The State Justice Institute is funding a best practices guidelines for mediators across the country.

They will meet with over 230 people from across the country to recognize emotional strain in the resolution process.

“It really gives us a chance to reach out to people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, different communities, different justice systems even. And so we’re hoping that it’s going to gonna blossom from there,” Farmer said.

That process is expected to take a year. Judge Farmer says Lubbock county has been doing mediation in criminal cases since 2011.

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