Interest in Mental Health on the Rise?

The interest in supporting the mental health of our young people that find themselves in the juvenile justice system has been increasing over the past year. The flurry of violence across our country is certainly increasing it.

The Juvenile Justice Work Group is having a discussion with Jim Henry from Southwest Michigan’s Childrens Trauma Assessment Center and Joe Benamanti from the Sanctuary Institute in NY to talk about trauma-informed care. It’s a fascinating topic as it forces us to take a step back and rethink the underling premises of juvenile justice programming. A colleague explained that systems face challenges “while integrating a system of trauma-informed care, in part because the philosophy of traditional juvenile justice systems focus on holding kids responsible for their behavior, which can get in the way of getting traumatized youth the treatment they need. A paradigm shift is in order, and trauma-informed care is an organizational change model; the model and principles apply to staff as much as to kids.”

The feds are paying attention as well. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is seeking applications for funding for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program.The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program seeks to increase public safety by facilitating collaboration among the criminal justice and mental health and substance abuse treatment systems to increase access to mental health and other treatment services for individuals with mental illnesses or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. The program encourages early intervention for these multisystem-involved individuals; maximizes diversion opportunities for multisystem-involved individuals with mental illnesses or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders; promotes training for justice and treatment professionals; and facilitates communication, collaboration, and the delivery of support services among justice professionals, treatment and related service providers, and governmental partners.  You can find out more information here. Applications due March 25th.

Perhaps we’ll see schools starting to pay attention to trauma-informed care rather than investing in more police walking the halls.