Three Briefs in Juvenile Justice Resource Series Address Mental Health, Behavioral Health Funding, Screening and Assessment
Mental illness plays a major role in the lives of the more than 2 million young people who become involved in the juvenile justice system every year (Puzzanchera, 2009; Puzzanchera & Kang, 2010). In fact, 65-70% percent of juveniles in the system have at least one diagnosable mental health need (Shufelt & Cocozza, 2006; Teplin, Abram, McClelland, Dulcan, & Mericle, 2002; Wasserman, McReynolds, Lucas, Fisher, & Santos, 2002). On behalf of SAMHSA, AIR’s Human and Social Development Program operates the Technical Assistance Partnership, providing technical assistance to system of care sites around the nation. A system of care is a ”coordinated network of community-based services and supports that are organized to meet the challenges of children and youth with serious mental health needs and their families” (Stroul, et al. 2008). To build system of care communities’ capacities to serve youth who are currently involved in or at-risk of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system, the Technical Assistance Partnership, along with the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, recently published three new issue briefs:
- A Primer for Mental Health Practitioners Working With Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System
- New Directions for Behavioral Health Funding and Implications for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System
- Screening and Assessment in Juvenile Justice Systems: Identifying Mental Health Needs and Risk of Reoffending
The Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health published these briefs as part of its 2012 Juvenile Justice Resource Series. At this time, the series features six papers that examine a number of unique aspects of services and supports that youth, especially youth with mental health concerns, encounter while attempting to navigate multiple systems.
The issue briefs also offer “best practices” to guide mental health, juvenile justice, and other related professionals in serving youth. For example, in A Primer for Mental Health Practitioners Working With Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System, author Robert Kinscherff (2012) notes that it is important for mental health providers to work with young people using the perspective of developmental psychology, which holds that youth may experience development in many domains at the same time (emotional, cognitive, social, moral, and physical). Kinscherff explains, “Misconduct among youth may have very different patterns of onset or frequency, be maintained by different factors and may reflect different kinds of difficulties. For example, assaultive behavior in one adolescent may reflect an intensely emotionally reactive response to perceived threat or a trigger related to previous traumatic experiences, but for another it may reflect a deliberate and focused effort to intimidate, project power, or achieve goals." Thus, it is important for mental health professionals to recognize that similar behavior across multiple youth may reflect very different psychological circumstances for each individual depending on that young person’s specific experiences or particular cognitive and physical development.
The Technical Assistance Partnership is operated jointly by the American Institutes for Research and the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health and is sponsored by the Child, Adolescent, and Family Branch, Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Kinscherff, R. (2012). A primer for mental health practitioners working with youth involved in the juvenile justice system. Washington, DC: Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health.
Puzzanchera, C. (2009). Juvenile arrests 2007. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Puzzanchera, C., & Kang, W. (2010). Easy access to juvenile court statistics: 1985-2007. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Shufelt, J., & Cocozza, J. (2006). Youth with mental health disorders in the juvenile justice system: Results from a multi-state prevalence study. Delmar, NY: National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice.
Stroul, B., Blau, G., & Sondheimer, D. (2008). System of care: A strategy to transform children’s mental health. In Stroul, B. & Blau, G. (Ed.), The system of care handbook: Transforming mental health services for children, youth and families. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company.
Teplin, L., Abram, K., McClelland, G., Dulcan, M., & Mericle, A. (2002). Psychiatric disorders in youth in juvenile detention. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59(12), 1133–1143.
Wasserman, G., McReynolds, L., Lucas, C., Fisher, P., & Santos, L. (2002). The Voice DISC-IV with incarcerated male youths: Prevalence of disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 41(3), 314–321.