Caring for Youth with Mental Health Needs in the Juvenile Justice System: Improving Knowledge and Skills
Published May 7, 2015, Fred Meservey, LMSW and Kathleen R. Skowyra, NCMHJJ/Collaborative for Change
Approximately two-thirds of youth in the care of the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health and/or substance use disorder. Too frequently, staff supervising
these youth have received little formal adolescent mental health training and lack the knowledge and skills to provide adequate supervision and care. This can often lead to the use of ineffective and unnecessarily punitive responses to youth which can further exacerbate a youth’s symptoms and create stressful situations for all. To address this challenge, the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ), with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, created and tested a mental health training curriculum for juvenile justice staff. Additional support from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention allowed the NCMHJJ to successfully implement it in numerous sites across the country.