Hank Ehlies | Mental Defender
Justice to Decriminalize Mental Illness
Most discussions of PTSD focus on veterans to the extent that many people who suffer from PTSD are often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Since PTSD can masquerade as ADHD, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and even extreme stoicism, many people suffer without access to effective treatment modalities.
An attorney since 1975, Hank Ehlies is one of the nation’s leading legal authorities on criminal court cases involving the mentally ill. Twice in three years he has filed briefs in cases pending before the Supreme Court of the United States that involve the mentally ill and law enforcement. As lead counsel on a number of landmark cases, Hank is a highly regarded resource to lawyers around the country seeking assistance on how best to argue law enforcement cases that deal with the mentally ill.
Hank began advocating for the mentally ill early in his career after recognizing the inordinate number of individuals with mental illness incarcerated in our nation’s prisons and the high rate of recidivism that occurs among them. He firmly believes jails are not treatment facilities for mental illness and that using them as such invites a host of maladies. Under this premise, he established in 2017 a national non-profit organization called The Council on Law Enforcement and the Mentally Ill (CLEMI), which works to enact just and effective legislation and protocols to protect and serve individuals with mental illness, law enforcement officers and the public.
Hank has a full-time solo practice in Greenville, South Carolina. He has the rare distinction of being published as a practicing attorney in the S.C. Law Review, and has made numerous national and local media appearances in regard to legal case work related to mental illness. He has spoken at universities, in prisons, churches, and before a number of other groups.