• November 2017
  • Vol. 18, No. 8

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Law Enforcement, Mental Health Professionals Partner to Help Troubled Youth Get Treatment

A recent Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) webisode discusses evidence-based strategies and collaborative efforts among law enforcement officers, mental health professionals, and youth advocates to help youth with antisocial behaviors access mental health therapy and avoid entry into the juvenile justice system.

The webisode explores the changing role of law enforcement as it relates to negative and potentially dangerous behaviors in children, youth, and young adults. Rather than treating outbursts as crimes that warrant immediate arrest, law enforcement agencies are looking at how police officers can support troubled youth by understanding and recognizing mental health disorders and helping them access treatment.

The webisode points out that approximately 50 to 75 percent of the 2 million children and youth in the U.S. juvenile justice system meet the diagnostic criteria for a mental disorder. It also notes that more than 600,000 youth are placed in juvenile detention centers each year and that youth with mental health disorders need supports to keep them out of that system.

The President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended crisis intervention training (CIT) for law enforcement professionals to help them prevent violence, avoid unnecessary arrests, and improve access to mental health services. The webisode looks at developments related to CIT and the shift in law enforcement and community perceptions.

The webisode features Dr. Gary Blau, SAMHSA's chief of the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch; Christopher McKee, police captain, CIT coordinator, and school resource officer supervisor, Suffield, CT; Nyamuon Nguany, regional coordinator, Youth MOVE Maine; and Joyce Burrell, Prince George's County (MD) System of Care (former deputy commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services).

"Diverting to Treatment: Community Policing and Supporting Youth With Mental Health Needs" is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xy4_M-faun8.

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