Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Action Network
Working together to improve services and policies for youth with mental health needs involved with the juvenile justice system
The overwhelming majority of young people in the juvenile justice system meet the criteria for at least one mental health disorder such as major depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety conditions. These conditions are often the reason they land in the juvenile justice system in the first place. Community treatment is often unavailable or poorly coordinated.
The Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Action Network was established in 2007 to forge and implement innovative solutions for better identifying and treating youth with mental health needs in the juvenile justice system. The network was an issue-focused forum for the development and exchange of ideas and strategies across states, and for sharing practical information and expertise in support of reform. The eight mental health/juvenile justice action network sites were: Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and Washington.
Teams from each of the action network states collaborated on one of two “strategic innovation” areas:
- Front-end diversion or improving ways to identify youth with mental health needs and divert them into treatment as early in the process as possible, to avoid unnecessary system involvement, and
- Education and training or enhancing community education and training to recruit and retain staff better equipped to work with the large numbers of youth with mental health needs involved with the juvenile justice system.
The Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Action Network was coordinated by the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ) at Policy Research Associates.