Many juvenile justice systems across the country are overwhelmed by the number of young people suffering from behavioral health problems—meaning mental health disorders, substance use problems, or both. When these systems are not adequately equipped to deal with these youth, their problems—and their behavior—can get worse. At the same time, it must be kept in mind that using the juvenile justice system to solve mental health and substance abuse problems harms youth unnecessarily, impeding their ability to progress in school and in the workforce.
Below, you’ll find an overview of salient issues and links to information on each one, as well as the most recent research, cutting edge reforms, model policies, best practices, links to experts, and toolkits to take action.
Mental Health & Substance Use Disorder Topics
Key Issues (VIEW ALL »)
- Who are these youth?
- How many youth are affected?
- What types of disorders are most common?
- Why do youth with mental health and substance use disorders end up in the juvenile justice system?
- How do we identify these youth?
- What is screening?
- What is assessment?
- When should screening and assessment tools be used?
- What factors impact the selection of screening and assessment tools?
- What disorders are being screened/assessed?
- Can screening and assessment impact a young person's legal rights??
- Are there other ways to handle youth with mental health and substance use disorders?
- Which treatment programs work for juvenile justice youth with mental health and substance use disorders?
- How are mental health services for youth funded?