At-Risk Youth Mental Health Services and Treatment

L.Nicole Cervantes, MSW (Spring 2013)
% Have at least one diagnosable
mental health need.
61 % had a co‐occurring substance use
 20–25 % Have serious emotional issues.
of these youth are
incarcerated for minor
/non-violent offenses or
have not been charged
with a crime.
are the barriers of mental health resources
and services for at-risk youth?
are the existing programs designed for atrisk youth diagnosed with mental health disorders?
What current policies and programs available for
at-risk youth diagnosed with mental health
Research Design: Qualitative, comparative
analysis method.
 Data collection method: Reference library
professional as well as comprehensive search
of academic databases.
 Sample: 21 empirical articles on the topic
of at-risk youth and mental health services
published between 2003 and 2012 were
selected .
Analysis Plan: “PICO” method.
Culture identity and socioeconomic status are critical
components to consider when examining youth with mental
health needs, as culture shapes the way individuals view and
respond to emotional distress . Therefore, race and ethnicity are
important factors that should be included when researching
barriers at-risk youth encounter when seeking mental health
The likelihood of youth receiving proper treatment and
services will increase through establishing relationships with
school counselors, healthcare and mental health professionals,
parents, and communities. A consistent commitment from social
work professionals is needed to address the diverse complexities
of youth mental health issues.
Research indicates up to two thirds of youth in the juvenile
justice system have untreated mental health disorders.
Typically, these youth have not been formally charged with a
crime, but are held in detention centers as an alternative to
effective treatment or because they have nowhere else to go.
Based on the review of research, a very small percentage of youth with diagnosable
mental health problems seek help from mental health services.
Mental health needs for this population often are neglected as detention facilities are
generally not equipped to provide adequate care to youth with mental illness.
Based on the information presented, since the 1980s, mental health programs were
either drastically cut or not renewed on the premise that the tax dollars would be
allocated more appropriately.
In the 1990s, the burden fell on local and state governments to address and manage
juvenile delinquents with mental health issues while trying to balance their local
Dynamics such as, race, culture, demographics, and gender should be further
studied to obtain an accurate depiction of appropriate services for this
Davidson, S., & Skowyra, K. (2006). Juvenile diversion: Programs for justice-involved youth with mental health
disorders. National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. Retrieved from
French, R., Reardon, M., & Smith, P. (2003). Engaging with a mental health service: Perspectives of at-risk youth. Child
and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 20(6), 529-548. doi:10.1023/B:CASW.0000003142.13457.0a
Howell, E., & McFeeters, J. (2008). Children’s mental health care: Differences by race/ethnicity in urban/ rural areas.
Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 19, 237-247.
National Association of Social Workers. (2006). Social work speaks: National Association of Social Workers policy
statements, 2006-2009. Washington, DC: NASW Press.
Puzzanchera, C. (2009). Juvenile arrests 2007. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice
and Delinquency Prevention.
Puzzanchera, C., & Kang, W. (2010). Easy access to juvenile court statistics: 1985-2007. Washington, DC: U.S.
Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Scherff, A. R., Eckert, T. L., & Miller, D. N. (2005). Youth suicide prevention: A survey of public school superintendents’
acceptability of school-based programs. Suicide and Life-Threat Behavior, 35, 154-169. doi:10.1521/suli.
U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Government Reform. (2004). Incarceration of youth who are waiting for
community mental health services in the United States. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from http://democrats

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