Many teenagers and adolescents in Louisiana and throughout the United States suffer from depression, anxiety, behavior disorders and a number of other mental health conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4.5 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with anxiety, and another 1.9 million with depression.
Not all children receive treatment for their conditions, which can make the issue worse. Children who do not have access to mental health care may suffer increased symptoms. A look into the juvenile criminal justice system shows that many children held in detention have mental health problems, many of which are untreated.
According to the American Bar Association, up to 70% of children held in juvenile detention centers throughout the country have a mental illness. Studies show that more than 2,000 adolescents are placed in detention centers because they do not have access to mental health services and are unable to receive treatment.
While the justice system developed juvenile detention centers to help curb children from becoming adult criminals, research shows that they often do the opposite. Community based programs, on the other hand, help decrease the number of kids who reoffend, even for children who commit violent crimes. Programs should concentrate on each of the following:
- Mental health
- Juvenile justice
- Child protection
Keeping children in a safe place where they can get the help they need is vital. Juvenile mental health courts create an environment that fosters those principals. These courts employ a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to provide kids with case management, mental health care, discipline and rehabilitation.