According to SAMHSA, research studies show 60-70% of youth in the juvenile justice system display symptoms of mental disorder. Over 60% of them also show signs of substance use disorder. Fully 30% of those showing both mental and substance disorders are unable to function normally.
Now SAMHSA and the MacArthur Foundation are working together to create a system where these challenged youth are given community based services instead of being placed in the juvenile justice system.
Under this initiative, states will compete, and eight chosen, for part of $1M in funding by showing how committed they are to improving policies and programs for these youth. They will be supported by the SAMHSA’s Policy Academy and the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Action Network.
SAMHSA’s Policy Academy mechanism gets state leadership teams to work together to learn about new research and interventions. The MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Action Network strategy helps people team up who are working on changes in policy and practice. The goal is to place youth with mental disorders and/or substance use disorders into programs that will help them stay out of the juvenile justice system.
This initiative primarily focuses on changing three things: less youth of color with mental/substance use disorder in the juvenile justice system, screen and evaluate for mental/substance use disorder in the juvenile justice system and acknowledge the valuable role of evidence-based practice, treatment and trauma informed services.
The goal is to change the course traveled by youth with mental/substance use disorder as early as possible toward a positive outcome. SAMHSA and MacArthur will provide technical assistance to the states while they implement changes to this effect.