Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Youth in Contact With the Juvenile Justice System in System of Care Communities
Each year, more than 2 million children, youth, and young adults formally come into contact with the juvenile justice system, while millions more are at risk of involvement with the system for myriad reasons. Of those children, youth, and young adults, a large number (65–70 percent) have at least one diagnosable mental health need, and 20–25 percent have serious emotional issues. System of care communities focusing on meeting the mental health and related needs of this population through comprehensive community-based services and supports have the opportunity to not only develop an understanding around the unique challenges this population presents, but also to decide how best to overcome those challenges through planned and thoughtful programs, strong interagency collaboration, and sustained funding.
The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health (TA Partnership) recognizes the many challenges system of care communities face in working to better meet the needs of all of the children, youth, and young adults they serve. In an effort to help these communities meet the unique needs of young people involved or at risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system, the TA Partnership is releasing a resource series focused on this population. The TA Partnership has contracted with the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ) to produce this resource series, which contains three briefs. Each brief examines a unique aspect of serving this population within system of care communities.
The first brief, Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Youth in Contact With the Juvenile Justice System in System of Care Communities, provides an overview of the challenges many system of care communities face in working with children, youth, and young adults involved or at risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system and provides concrete examples of how some communities have overcome these challenges. The second brief, Successfully Collaborating With the Juvenile Justice System: Benefits, Challenges, and Key Strategies, takes a closer look at the importance of true collaboration between community-based child-serving agencies in providing a comprehensive array of services and supports and fostering positive outcomes for this population. Finally, the third brief, Systems of Care Programs That Serve Youth Involved With the Juvenile Justice System: Funding and Sustainability, explores ways in which communities can financially sustain the efforts they have in place to meet the needs of this population after the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) funding period has ended.
We hope that this resource series will support the planning and implementation of effective services, policies, and practices that improve outcomes for children, youth, and young adults involved or at risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system as well as their families.