Blog: Adolescent Mental Health

Nearly 1 in 3 youths will be arrested by age 23

Nearly one in three youth will be arrested for a non-traffic offense by the time they are 23 years old. 
This startling statistic comes from a new report published today in Pediatrics. According to Robert Brame, a criminologist at UNC-Charlotte and principal author of the study, "arrest is a pretty common experience."
This analysis was last done in the 1960s, when researchers found that there were 100 inmates per 100,000 people in the population. Today's study found that there are now 500 inmates per 100,000 people. Researchers suggested that rates increased due to a more aggressive policy for truancy/vandalism/underage drinking/shoplifting and because transition from adolescence to adulthood has become a longer process. 
Of particular note is the authors' decision to publish the study in a medical journal instead of a journal focused on criminologists. The researchers believe that pediatricians have a role preventing violent or unsafe behaviors in their at-risk patients, explained Prof. Brame in a HealthDay article.

Are you eligible for a Second Chance Act grant? And more -- news roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment

  • Massachusetts theatre company receives federal grant to work with youth
    The Salem Theatre Company was recently awarded a grant from the Healthy People 2020 Community Innovations Project, a program of the US Department of Health and Human Services, to work with local youth. They plan to create three short plays focused on healthy choices with regards to nutrition, substance abuse and youth violence.

Youth detention facilities are providing inadequate health care

Youth in the juvenile justice system are at high-risk for physical, mental and developmental health issues according to a new policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Adolescence. Despite this, many youths don’t receive the level of health care they need, either in the system or when they get out. The report represents the first update in 10 years to the Health Care for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System.
Nationwide 11 million juveniles were arrested in 2008, according to the report. And while not all arrested youth are placed in some form of detention (either short- or long-term) the median stay in custody in 2006 was 65 days. Eighty percent remained in detention for at least 30 days and 57 percent for at least 90 days. All of those youths require healthcare of some kind.
“We wanted to advocate for these youth to have the same level and standards of care as non-incarcerated youth in the community,” the report’s lead author, Dr. Paula Braverman, Director of Community Programs at the Cincinatti Children’s Hospital Medical Center said in an email. She said the Committee on Adolescence also “outlined specific recommendations which included the training and skill of the health care providers.”
Currently, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) publishes standards for care in juvenile facilities. At a minimum, the NCCHC says, youth should be screened by health care professionals immediately upon arriving at an intake facility to check for contagious conditions, urgent health needs and suicidal thoughts. Within seven days of intake, youth should be given a hands-on, comprehensive health examination by a doctor. Girls and boys are tested for sexually transmitted diseases and vaccinations are updated. A further mental health screening must be performed within 14 days. A dental examination must be performed within seven days.

Law school partners with reclaiming futures to help teens and more -- a juvenile justice news roundup

  • Join the CyberShoutout October 28: Making Smart Choices Kicking off National Drug Facts Week, the CyberShoutout is a day-long special event featuring discussions in social media by bloggers, organization leaders, and other stakeholders on the topic of youth drug abuse. The Shout is hosted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.
  • National Drug Facts Week is October 31-November 6
    Hosted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Drug Facts Week is a health observance week for teens that aims to shatter the myths about drugs and drug abuse. Through community-based events and activities on the Web, on TV, and through contests, NIDA is working to encourage teens to get factual answers from scientific experts about drugs and drug abuse.
  • Abstracts Due November 1 for JMATE
    The Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness offers a unique opportunity for for practice, research and treatment communities to exchange ideas and data, thereby moving the field of adolescent treatment toward effective, evidence-based and promising practices. The conference is Tuesday, April 10 through Thursday, April 12, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Proposed rule for the health insurance exchanges a threat to mental health and substance abuse disorder providers?

The federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released a proposed rule for the health insurance exchanges, created by the new health care reform law.
According to the Legal Action Center, it fails to identify mental health and substance abuse disorders providers as essential community providers that serve predominantly low-income and medically underserved populations. In addition, they state there are other improvements to the proposed regulation that would better ensure that the health needs of people with mental and substnce sbuse disorders are better met.
Read from their statement after the jump:

Improving State Juvenile Justice Systems and More -- News Roundup

  • Why Are All the Black Kids in Special Ed?
    Minority students (and especially Black students) are disproportionately diagnosed with disabilities and placed in special education or lowest-level courses. The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia makes the case for seeking a second opinion.
  • Lasting Drop in Smoking, Delinquency, Drug Use
    Study shows that tenth-graders in towns using Communities That Care, a prevention system developed by University of Washington researchers, are less likely to have tried drinking or smoking compared with teens living in towns that had not adopted the system. Delinquent behavior, including stealing, vandalism and physical fights, decreased too.
  • Kids-for-Cash Sentencing Set for November 4
    Robert J. Powell, the former co-owner of two juvenile detention centers in Pennsylvania who testified he paid kickbacks to two judges, may serve 21 to 27 months in prison for failing to report a felony and abetting tax evasion.

Scholarships, Data and More: Juvenile Justice and Adolescent Treatment News Roundup

  • Scholarships for Judges Managing Challenging Family Law
    This training is co-sponsored by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the National Judicial College, October 24-27, 2011, in Reno, Nevada. The scholarships would cover the $985 tuition fee and the participant would be responsible for the $245 conference fee as well as their own travel expenses.
  • National Geographic Examines the Teenage Brain
    Excitement, Novelty and Risk: A strength-based look at adolescence as a highly functional, even adaptive period.
  • OJJDP Bulletin Examines State Juvenile Transfer Laws
    In the 1980s and 1990s, legislatures in nearly every state expanded transfer laws that allowed or required the prosecution of juveniles in adult criminal courts. This bulletin, which is part of the Juvenile Offenders and Victims National Report Series, provides the latest overview of state transfer laws and practices and examines available state-level data on juveniles adjudicated in the criminal justice system.

Elections, Liquor and Riots -- A Juvenile Justice Adolescent Treatment News Roundup

Call for Abstracts: Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE) 2012


Want to present at the 2012 Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE)? The organizers have put out a call for abstracts. (They're due November 1, 2011). Here's the official announcement: 

We are thrilled to announce that the 2012 Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE) is taking place April 10-12, 2012 in Washington, DC. 
We are currently seeking abstract submissions! The deadline for submission is November 1, 2011. For complete details and instructions on how to submit your abstract, please see the attached 2012 JMATE Call for Abstracts (PDF) or visit the Abstract Submission page of the JMATE Website at
If you have any questions or additional information needs, please contact us at  Thank you for your continued work on behalf of adolescent treatment and recovery!

>>Download the call for abstracts here.

Fit for Trial in the Juvenile Justice System (and More) -- News Roundup

New Guide for Community Collaboration (and More) -- News Roundup

  • Promising Practice: Helping Young People into Employment
    LA Fitness founder Fred Turok spearheaded "Transforming a Generation," a program that provides on the job training and has helped 1,400 young people into jobs or higher education.
  • Two OJJDP Grants Cut for Lack of Funding
    The Comprehensive Anti-Gang Strategies and Programs and Evaluation of the Second Chance Act Juvenile Mentoring Initiatives were worth $750,000. Both grants were not awarded due to spending cuts in 2011. (Hat tip to Youth Today)
  • NIATx Training: Billing Third-Party Payers
    This learning collaborative will focus on giving behavioral healthcare providers, including adolescent substance abuse treatment providers, the skills they need to bill third-party payers for their services. Application deadline has been extended to September 23.
  • New Guide for Community Collaboration
    The National Collaboration for Youth has created "Invitation to the Big Picture: Implementing a Local Collaboration for Youth in Your Community," a guide to identifying or forming an association of local child- and youth-serving agencies. Please use and share this guide with your national and local networks. (Hat tip FYI)

Join SAMHSA Recovery Month for "Twitter Chat" on Recovery

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_national-recovery-month-logoThe Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Recovery Month is hosting its third Twitter chat to help spread the word that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.
The September #RecoveryChat will focus on celebrating Recovery Month and will be co-hosted by Dr. Westley Clark, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, and Kathryn Power, director of SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The chat will be held on Monday, September 12 from 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm PST / 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. EST.
Join the Twitter chat by asking questions and contributing to the dialogue about Recovery Month and substance use and mental health disorders by using the designated hashtag #RecoveryChat to track and participate in the conversation. By adding #RecoveryChat to the end of each tweet, you signify your involvement in the conversation. Also, be sure to tune in 15 minutes early for our first Twitterview with our expert co-hosts!
SAMHSA/CSAT also encourages you to share your stories about planning or attending Recovery Month events, key learnings of what worked or what didn’t work for you or others in recovery, or other similar topics. During the chat, we are looking to not only answer questions, but also to raise awareness of the importance of prevention, the effectiveness of treatment, and the reality of recovery.
Not available for the chat? Tweet your questions to @RecoveryMonth in advance, using the hashtag #RecoveryChat. If you aren’t on Twitter, but are interested in asking a question, feel free to post questions on the Recovery Month Facebook Page or send questions in an email to
[Reprinted from a SAMHSA press release with minor changes.]

States Save Millions by Downsizing & Closing Juvenile Prisons (and More) -- News Roundup

  • Report: Tribal Youth in the Federal Justice System
    Cosponsored by OJJDP and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, this report is now available online. The report describes findings from a study that explored issues surrounding American Indian youth who are processed in the federal justice system, and discusses the prevalence, characteristics, and outcomes at each stage of the justice system.
  • From PBS: Stats and Facts on Juveniles Tried as Adults
    Evidence that deterrent effects are minimal or nonexistent, and that, trying juveniles in criminal court may result in higher rates of reoffending.
  • Juvenile Offender Becomes Advocate for Youth At-Risk
    Starcia Ague helped push through a law in the state of Washington that allows Class A juvenile felony records to be sealed, at the discretion of the judge, as long as youth have a clean record for five years after their release.

The Effects of Drug Testing in Schools (and More) -- News Roundup

  • Health and Human Services Awards $40 million
    Grants were awarded to 39 state agencies, community health centers, school-based organizations and non-profit groups in 23 states for efforts to identify and enroll children eligible for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. (Hat tip to Rob Vincent.)
  • Study Finds Drug Testing in Schools Has Only Small Effect in Reducing Substance Use
    “This study sends a cautionary note to the estimated 20 percent or more of high schools that have joined the drug testing bandwagon,” study co-author Dan Romer said in a news release. “We find little evidence that this approach to minimizing teen drug use is having the deterrent effect its proponents claim.”
  • Fact Sheet: Understanding Child Welfare and the Courts
    Families involved with the child welfare system may have some involvement with the court—in most States, this occurs in a family or juvenile court. This fact sheet is designed to serve as a quick guide to the general types of court hearings that a family may experience, and it traces the steps of a child welfare case through the court system. (H/t Paul Savery.)

Poll: Drug Abuse a Top Health Concern for Kids (and More) -- News Roundup

  • Selecting and Implementing Evidence-Based Practices
    Treatment funding is being increasingly tied to outcomes, a trend expected to continue as the integration of behavioral health with primary care moves forward in the context of healthcare reform. Learn more from the Addiction Technology Transfer Center of New England about achieving desired client outcomes in part 2 of a 3-part series.
  • Poll: Drug Abuse Equals Childhood Obesity as Top Health Concern for Kids
    On Aug. 15th, the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital released the results of its 5th annual national poll, in which Americans rated drug abuse and childhood obesity as the number one health concern for our nation’s youth. This is important news because it shows that drug abuse is now on the radar screens of people throughout the country and that Americans are very concerned about this issue. Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America issues a statement in response. (Hat tip to Christa Myers.)

Apply Now: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Learning Collaborative

juvenile-justice-system_pensive-youth"Alternatives for Families: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (AF-CBT) is an evidence-based intervention for children and families whose level of conflict, coercion, and aggression have resulted in or placed them at-risk for physical abuse or related safety concerns," writes Paul Savery.
He also forwarded the following: 

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network is pleased to release the 2011–2012 Alternatives for Families: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (AF-CBT) Learning Collaborative Information and Application Packet. AF-CBT is an evidence-based treatment designed to improve the relationships between children and their caregivers. AF-CBT addresses concerns such as harsh physical discipline/punishment as well as child/family aggression and family interactions characterized by hostile interactions and conflict.  
The Information packet contains critical information to help you and your organization understand the benefits of participating in the 2011-20112 AF_CBT Learning Collaborative. All interested in participating should thoroughly read the attached Information Packet and follow the directions included for submitting the Notification of Interest (by Monday, August 22, 2011) and the Online Application (by Friday, September 2, 2011).

You can learn more on the NCTSN website. If you have further questions, please contact Lauren Simone at
Hurry! Note that deadline for the NOI: Monday, August 22, 2011!

2011 Recovery Month Toolkit Now Available from SAMHSA

As we’ve previously discussed, Recovery Month is celebrated each September to help promote the societal benefits of treatment for mental and substance use disorders, celebrate people in recovery, laud the contributions of treatment providers, and promote the message that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.
As part of Recovery Month, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) develops a toolkit every year with educational materials and tools to help individuals and organizations plan events to celebrate Recovery Month. The toolkit is broken down into sections by audience and types of resources.
The 2011 theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Recovery Benefits Everyone,” showcases how public awareness will increase access to those in need of essential substance use and mental health services and how legislative changes will improve the overall health and well-being of people in the United States.
The toolkit also covers mental health problems and substance use disorders of adolescent and young adults. According to SAMHSA’s 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 2 million 12 through 17-year-olds needed treatment for a substance use disorder in 2009. A survey conducted by the National Health and Nutritional Examination found that 13 percent of children ages 8 to 15 had at least one mental health problem, a rate comparable to diabetes, asthma, and other diseases. As a result, the toolkit has useful information, such as warning signs of a developing substance use disorder and symptoms of mental health problems -- it also provides a wide range of resources, which can be narrowed to only show youth programs.
If you are interested in more information, the SAMHSA Recovery Month toolkit is available online and in hard copy. For other information about Recovery Month, please visit our website and become a fan of the Facebook Page, or follow us on Twitter.

Michele Monroe is a Public Health Analyst for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Save the Date: Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE) 2012

The next Joint Meeting on Adolescent Treatment Effectiveness (JMATE) -- the only national conference solely devoted to adolescent substance abuse treatment -- has been scheduled for April 10-12, 2012, in Washington, D.C. 
Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the nearly-annual conference is a fantastic opportunity to see top-notch presentations on ... well, you can check out the 2010 JMATE agenda here to get an idea.
There's no agenda yet for the 2012 event, but take it from me, you don't want to miss it. 
Want to be notified when you can register? Send your email to
Want to participate in the 2012 JMATE planning committees? Contact

UPDATED and Still URGENT: Support SAMHSA in Making Teens a Priority in Block Grants

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_megaphoneIf you care about adolescent substance abuse treatment (and mental health treatment), this is really important.
As I posted recently, SAMHSA is proposing big changes to its mental health and alcohol and drug treatment block grants. They want your comments by this Friday, June 3, 2011 June 9, 2011.
Ho-hum, right?
Far from it. We need you and everyone you know to submit comments to support SAMHSA's inclusion of adolescents/youth as a target population by Friday (see below for a draft message you can use or adapt).

>>Submit your email comments to SAMHSA the easy way, using this action alert from sparkaction.

UPDATED: SAMHSA Changes Substance Abuse and Mental Health Block Grants - Your Comments (Still) Needed!

SAMHSA has revamped its block grant applications for substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment services. You can submit comments by emailing Summer King, SAMHSA Reports Clearance Officer on or before June 9, 2011. [We were incorrectly informed June 3rd was the deadline.]
What are the proposed changes?  Here's the SAMHSA press release (with minor edits):
adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_pointerSAMHSA Introduces Guidance Changing Its Block Grant Programs to Reflect New Opportunities Provided by Parity, Health Reform and Emerging Science
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced a new approach for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant (SABG) and the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) in the April 11, 2011 Federal Register.

Under this new approach states and territories will have the opportunity to use block grant dollars for prevention, treatment, recovery supports and other services that supplement services covered by Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance. The block grant funds will be directed to four purposes: