Juvenile Detention Last Resort for Mentally Ill Youth
August 19, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
As states continue to cut funding for mental health programs, mentally ill youth are increasingly held in juvenile detention rather than receiving the medical care they need.
Currently, about two-thirds of inmates in juvenile detention centers across the country have a diagnosed mental illness. Juvenile detention centers often fail, or are ill-equipped, to provide mentally ill youth with the help they could get from mental health facilities.
At least 32 states have cut community mental health programs this year and plan to double reductions by 2010. Ohio has reduced funding for community-based mental health services by 34 percent. California's recent budget cuts entail cutting $92 million in funding for mental health services and reducing funding for community clinics by as much as 30 percent.
State cuts to mental health services exacerbate an already tough situation for many mentally ill youth seeking care. According to a 2006 study, for every 100,000 youths there are fewer than nine child psychiatrists.