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Juvenile Justice - Mental Health/Substance Abuse

Mental health screening and assessment is crucial within juvenile correctional facilities (JC). However, limited information is available about the current screening and assessment procedures specifically within JC … The purpose of the current study was to obtain information about the mental health screening and assessment procedures used in JC throughout the United States (p. 379).

Youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system, especially those in residential facilities, have higher rates of suicide than their non-system-involved peers … Suicide prevention efforts by this system should begin at the initial point of entry and be coordinated to protect youth at every step along the way … This report addresses performance-based standards for juvenile correction and detention facilities and describes a comprehensive suicide prevention program for juvenile facilities (p. 1). The components that comprise this program need to include: training; identification, referral, and evaluation; communication; housing (safe environment); levels of observation, follow-up, and treatment planning; intervention (emergency response); reporting and notification; and mortality-morbidity review.

Guide to Developing and Revising Suicide Prevention Protocols for Youth in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System Cover

This study examines the mental health needs of a detained juvenile justice population within the context of legislative reform to better identify targets of treatment to meet these changing needs. With low-level offenders actively diverted from the system, the purpose of this study is to identify the mental health needs of the reduced population of youth who are placed in a custodial setting (p. 3).

This brief reviews the prevalence of mental health issues among youth in the juvenile justice system, including: 1) the types of disorders among youth across juvenile justice settings, 2) the rates of adversity and trauma among these youth, and 3) the impact of these disorders on the system. The brief describes areas where the juvenile justice system can improve mental health supports and services for youth involved in or at risk of involvement in the system, along with recommendations for making such improvements.

Juvenile Mental Health Courts (JMHCs) provide case management and support to youth in the juvenile justice system with behavioral health needs. These courts focus on treatment and rehabilitation, and help to divert youth from juvenile detention facilities to community-based services in their local systems of care. This website provides a map showing where JMHCs are located within the United States.

Children and youth with mental health issues and learning difficulties are common in the juvenile justice system and finding ways to effectively rehabilitate, treat, and educate them is complicated, yet imperative. In this article, we examine the prevalence rates of mental health disorders in youth involved in the juvenile justice system, discuss the myriad challenges involved youth face, present differences related to gender and race/ethnicity as well as provide information associated with how best to assist these youths. Additionally, significant influences such as cultural, behavioral, and educational issues related to detained youth will be presented. Developing a better understanding of the challenges faced by detainees as well as recognizing barriers to treatment and rehabilitation are key. Further, identifying effective support systems for rehabilitation and transition are addressed (p. 1).

Within the past decade, reliance on the juvenile justice system to meet the needs of juvenile offenders with mental health concerns has increased. Due to this tendency, research has been conducted on the effectiveness of various intervention and treatment programs/approaches with varied success. Recent literature suggests that because of interrelated problems involved for youth in the juvenile justice system with mental health issues, a dynamic system of care that extends beyond mere treatment within the juvenile justice system is the most promising. The authors provide a brief overview of the extent to which delinquency and mental illness co-occur; why treatment for these individuals requires a system of care; intervention models; and the juvenile justice systems role in providing mental health services to delinquent youth. Current and future advancements and implications for practitioners are provided (p. 228).

This literature review will focus on the scope of mental health problems of at-risk and justice-involved youths; the impact of mental health on justice involvement as well as the impact of justice involvement on mental health; disparities in mental health treatment in the juvenile justice system; and evidence-based programs that have been shown to improve outcomes for youths with mental health issues (p. 1)

This study examines the effects of mental health screening and service delivery on perceived future criminal justice interactions— arrest and incarceration—among adjudicated youth … housed in correctional facilities … Significant relationships between traumatic events and mental health problems were found, along with relationships between mental health problems and mental health screening and service delivery. Most interestingly, results pointed to the strong inverse relationship between mental health service delivery and youth’s perceived likelihood for recidivism (p. 250).

This is the place to start if you are looking for information about preventing justice-involved youth from committing suicide. The summary provides a great introduction to the wealth of resources available from this Youth in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System Task Force. Sections comprising this publication include: introduction; background of and an overview of the resources from this Task Force; Public Awareness and Education Workgroup; Suicide Research Workgroup; Suicide Prevention Programming and Training Workgroup; Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Systems Collaboration Workgroup; and major findings from the above four workgroups.

Preventing Suicide: Working with Youth Who Are Justice Involved: Executive Summary Cover


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