Blog: Adolescent Mental Health

Computer-Based Treatment Outperforms Treatment As Usual - And More: A Roundup

  • adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_old-TVTaking the "Anonymous" out of A.A.
    Increasingly, adults in Alcoholics Anonymous are coming out of the closet and talking about their addiction and their membership in A.A. Is this a healthy sign that the stigma around addiction is decreasing, or does it threaten something that's critical to recovery -- and does all this look different when it comes to teens? Leave a comment below.
  • Computer-Based Interventions for Drug-Use Disorders: a Systematic Review According to a research survey published in the April 2011 issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, "Compared to treatment-as-usual, computer-based interventions led to less substance use and higher motivation to change, better retention, and greater knowledge of presented information. Computer-based interventions for drug use disorders have the potential to dramatically expand and alter the landscape of treatment." (Hat tip to Paul Savery.)

Social Inclusion for People in Recovery: Innovative Community Programs (Teleconference)

adolescent-mental-health_two-people-separated-by-chasmMost people need to feel included -- for young people in recovery from alcohol and drug use or living with mental health issues, it's critical for them to feel that they can contribute to their communities. 
But how can your community promote this? Check out this free teleconference from SAMHSA's Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with Mental Health (ADS Center).  It will be held May 9, 2011, from 12pm-1:30pm PST / 3pm-4:30pm EST.
In the spotlight will be three innovative programs "that are improving lives, changing communities, and transforming systems through social inclusion practices." Here are the details, quoted from the press release:

Building Great Behavioral Health Care Organizations in a New Environment: Conference

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_niatx-saas-conference-graphicBehavioral health care organizations -- including adolescent substance abuse treatment agencies -- face huge changes as health reform takes hold. How do you build a strong, vital organization that provides the best quality care?
We've built a conference around that very question: the 2011 NIATx Summit and SAAS National Conference, with the theme of "Revolutionary Strategies for Leaders." It'll be held July 20-13, 2011, in Boston, MA. (Don't know NIATx or SAAS? Scroll down for more info.)
Who should attend? CEOs, senior managers, and change leaders from behavioral health organizations who are focused on leadership, process improvement, and technology.

Is Medicaid Irrelevant? - Weekly Roundup

  • juvenile-justice-reform_state-trends-coverLegislative Victories Removing Youth from Adult Criminal Justice System
    The Campaign for Youth Justice released a report on the growing number of states changing their policies to keep more kids out of adult lockup.
  • Hardin County, OH Embraces Reclaiming Futures
    Reclaiming Futures Hardin County got great coverage in the March 26, 2011 issue of the Kenton Times. Random quotes: Scott Mitchell, treatment court graduate, said, “I did a complete 180." Judge James Rapp: "If we are there for [the kids], they will be successful.” Follow the link to learn more.
  • Do it YO Way - Mentors Guide Youth in Bristol County, MA
    After receiving training in anti-oppressive practices (follow link and scroll to find webinars, PowerPoints, and other resources), the Reclaiming Futures Bristol County team "developed 'YO', a pilot program which exposed seven young men from diverse ethnic backgrounds to the practices of oppressiveness and privilege."

    In an intense, 12-week program, they worked with adult mentors on "how to be successful in the face of the challenges they face in their daily lives."

    As Deirdre Lopes, director of the H.O.P.E. (Healthy Opportunities for Peaceful Engagement) Collaborative said, "We can tell them whatever we want, but there's no substitute for showing them. That's what really has an impact."

    Click the headline to see the April 5, 2011 story from South Coast Today.

Kids Who Witness or Experience Violence More Likely to Be Violent, Study Says

adolescent-mental-health_girl-watching-from-hidingChildren who witness violence often think it is normal, a development that can lead to violent behavior, says a new study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
The researchers, who surveyed 800 children between the ages of 8 and 12, asked the children if they had witnessed violence on television, at home or at school.  Six months later they were polled a second time.  Children who said they had witnessed violence were aggressive, according to the study.
“People exposed to a heavy diet of violence come to believe that aggression is a normal way to solve conflict and get what you want in life,” the study’s authors wrote.  “These beliefs lower their inhibitions against aggression against others.”
The full study is available by subscription only, but you can read more at ScienceDaily.

How Juvenile Probation Officers Identify Youth Mental Health Needs

juvenile-justice-system_broken-pencil-crumpled-paperA few weeks ago, my colleague, Jeff Butts, discussed here the implications of our recent study of rates of psychiatric disorder in almost 10,000 young persons at various levels of penetration of the justice system. (Here's the original study: "Psychiatric Disorder, Comorbidity, and Suicidal Behavior in Juvenile Justice Youth.")
He drew attention to our finding that, when evaluated in a standard way, approximately 35% of young persons at system entry (i.e., entering the juvenile justice system via probation or family court processing) met criteria for a mental health or substance use disorder.

In that work, we relied on a well-validated, computerized, instrument which aggregates a youth’s answers to specific questions about symptoms to generate a set of provisional psychiatric disorders (the DISC-IV). But what happens about identifying mental health problems in settings where such research activities are not in place?

Events: Responding to Tragic Incidents Involving a Person with Serious Mental Illness, and More

  • adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_light-coming-in-windowWebinar 3/10: Responding To A High-Profile Tragic Incident Involving A Person With A Serious Mental Illness
    From the Council of State Governments' Justice Center's Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project press release:

    When a person with a history or current diagnosis of serious mental illness is involved in a high-profile tragic incident, community leaders face public, media, legal and legislative scrutiny. Incomplete and/or inaccurate information may spread quickly—not only about the incident, but also about the likelihood of violence among individuals with mental illnesses. This is often fueled by community members’ mistaken assumptions that mental health treatment is ineffective and that most people with mental illnesses are violent. Though most individuals with serious mental illnesses will never be violent and can live successfully in the community with adequate treatment, supports, and housing, when a high-profile, tragic incident does occur that involves a member of this population, it can engender fear and lead to heated public debate.

    To help policymakers better anticipate and respond to these events, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors and the Council of State Governments Justice Center have released a toolkit for responding to tragic incidents involving a person with serious mental illnesses. In this webinar presenters will discuss the toolkit’s origins and applications. Presenters include:

    Dr. Lorrie Rickman-Jones, Director of Mental Health for the Illinois Department of Human Services
    Dr. Fred Osher, Director of Health Systems and Services Policy for the Council of State Governments Justice Center
    Mr. David Miller, Project Director for the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.

    Date: Thursday, March 10, 2011
    Time: 2:00-3:15 pm E.T.

    To register for this event, please click the link above.

Interview: Implementing Multidimensional Family Therapy for Teens in the Justice System

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_MDFT-coverMultidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) is an evidence-based practice for working with adolescents struggling with substance abuse – the manual can be downloaded from SAMHSA for free. (SAMHSA is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.) One of five treatment protocols developed and tested in the past decade by SAMHSA, it has been shown to be clinically and cost-effective.
As it happens, the creator of MDFT, Dr. Howard A. Liddle, Ed.D., will be doing a webinar for us on family engagement on April 30, 2011, at 11 am PST / 12 pm CST / 2 pm EST. You can learn more and register for it on our webinars page.
Dr. Liddle told me recently that there was an MDFT program operating in Portland, Oregon, where I live, so I set up an interview with Deena Corso, who is a clinical supervisor in the Juvenile Treatment Services unit at the Department of Community Justice (DCJ) in Multnomah County, Oregon. (Deena and I were co-workers when I was employed there between 2000 and 2007.)

Benjamin: What are the top reasons to implement MDFT?
Deena: We picked MDFT as our treatment model because it's an evidence-based practice, effective at reducing substance abuse and delinquent behavior for populations that looked like ours. We’d had a Multi-Systemic Therapy [MST] program for many years with good outcomes, but budget cuts forced us to look for an alternative, and once we looked at the research, we decided on MDFT. 

Roundup: Gay Teens Face Harsher Punishments

  • juvenile-justice-system_corrections-spending-graphicGrowth in Corrections Spending 1987-2007 Dwarfed Spending on Higher Ed (see image at right) - Curious about where your state stands? Follow the link and check the graph.  It would be interesting to see the same data comparing spending on the juvenile justice system with middle- and high-school spending.  (Hat tip to Jim Carlton.) 
  • Gay Teens Are Punished More Heavily in School and in Juvenile Court - From The New York Times: A national study of 15,000 middle school and high school teens published in Pediatrics found that gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens are more likely to be expelled from school than their straight peers, and more likely to be stopped, arrested, and adjudicated.  And "it's not because they're misbehaving more," says the study's lead author, Kathryn Himmelstein. (Hat tip to Dan Merrigan.)

Roundup: Where I'd Put My Money in Juvenile Justice

juvenile-justice-reform_old-TV-newsAdolescent Substance Abuse Treatment - Related News

Roundup: Systems of Care in the Juvenile Justice System

  • juvenile-justice-system_old-TV-newsHelping Teens in Recovery Starts with a Simple Phone Call. The Science and Management of Addictions (SAMA) Foundation in Seattle is piloting a mentor-by-phone program that now supports 50 teens in recovery after completing substance abuse treatment. The pilot program, "The Recover2gether Project," offers weekly phone calls to teens and two other services. It's funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 
  • Also For Teens in Recovery: "Laughter Yoga." The idea is that laughter -- even fake laughter -- changes your breathing and mood in positive ways. Follow the link to watch teens in a sober high school in Oklahoma trying it out on video.   (Hat tip to the Association of Recovery Schools.)

NIDA Drug Facts Chat Day 2010 - Answers to FAQ Posted

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_drug-facts-chat-day-logoDo teens in your juvenile justice system have a lot of misconceptions about drugs, alcohol, and addiction?  Would they be interested in learning the answers to questions about substance use, abuse, and addiction frequently asked by other teens?
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) held a Drug Facts Web Chat last week, on November 9, in which NIDA scientists answered from teens across the country, such as:

Roundup: BJS to Study Teens Transferred into Adult Justice System -- and More

The JPI also recommended that juvenile justice funds be directed at "educational and community-based youth programming" and that substance abuse and mental health treatment services be funded through public health agencies, and not through the justice system: "By reaching people before they come in contact with the justice system, we can reduce future justice involvement and related costs, and reduce the chances that someone will have to deal with the collateral consequences of having a criminal record."

Reclaiming Futures Relaunches Website

juvenile-justice-reform-adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_Reclaiming-Futures-web-siteIt's been nearly 10 years since Reclaiming Futures first launched its website focused on its six-step model promoting juvenile justice reform and adolescent substance abuse treatment.
A lot has changed since then. Which is why we've revamped our website at to help you find what you're looking for more easily.
For example, you can:

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment - Assertive Continuing Care Checklist

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_ladder-in-tree[The following checklist, which applies to both adult and adolescent substance abuse treatment, is reposted with permission of the author from his website, Selected Papers of William L. White. See below for attribution; slight edits have been made for ease of viewing and clarity (view the original here). -Ed.]
One of the best predictors of treatment quality is the use of assertive approaches to continuing care [for clients]. The checklist below is designed to identify the extent to which a program exemplifies such an approach. 

Video: Q&A on SAMHSA's 8 Strategies

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_character-with-question-markI've already posted about the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) call for public input on its eight strategies.
The agency plans to organize its work and funding priorities around these strategies, and wants input (and your votes on input from others) by October 22, 2010. 
I included links in my previous post to information online about the strategies, but here's something else you might find useful: the agency held an open house to talk about the initiatives last Friday. Video of that meeting has been archived, so you can review Q&A about SAMHSA's eight strategic initiatives, which made up a large portion of the event.

Medicaid Reform Could Change Your Work Life - Webinar

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_transformer-car-to-robotJust like the Transformer shown morphing above from a car into a robot, health reform will bring enormous changes for adolescent substance abuse treatment providers and behavioral healthcare agencies in general.
That's why it's important not to miss this one-hour webinar, "Medicaid Reform," on October 14, 2010 at noon PST / 3 pm EST. (Hat tip to Faces and Voices of Recovery.)
Sponsored by ACMHA (The College for Behavioral Healthcare Leadership), the webinar speaker will be Barbara Coulter Edwards, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Register here.
Questions? Email Kris Ericson, Executive Director of ACMHA.
Can't attend? Don't worry - all webinars will be archived with the rest of ACMHA's monthly webinar series on health reform legislation

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment - SAMHSA Wants Your Input on its Eight Strategies

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_SAMHSA-strategic-plan-coverI mentioned this in last week's roundup of news on the juvenile justice system and adolescent substance abuse treatment, but this deserves to be highlighted because it will guide the agency's work and funding priorities for years to come:
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) plans to organize its work into eight strategic initiatives, and you have the chance to give your own input (and vote on the merit of others' ideas) until October 22, 2010.  Here's the eight areas:

Is Your Behavioral Healthcare Agency Ready for Health Reform? - Training Series from NIATx

Work for an adolescent substance abuse treatment and/or mental health treatment agency? Work with people who do? The training series described below from NIATx is not to be missed.  So pass it on! 
(Copy below taken with minor changes from the NIATx website.)

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_NIATx-logoWill your Behavioral Health Organization Be Ready to Serve Patients in the New Environment Created by Health Reform?
The NIATx Accelerating Reform Collaborative (ARC) is a coaching/web-based learning program to help behavioral health providers prepare for health reform. It will help you:

  • Assess your organization's readiness for health reform
  • Fast track your thinking to plan for the future
  • Find out what peers and experts are thinking and doing regarding health reform
  • Receive valuable feedback from peers and experts on ideas you are considering
  • Create a short/medium range action plan to help your organization adapt to a new way of doing business