The Youth Justice Mental Health Initiative was established in 2010 to improve youth justice clients’ access to mental health services, and enhance the capacity of youth justice staff and mental health staff to effectively meet the needs of youth justice clients requiring mental health services.
Six dedicated clinical positions were established in mental health services to work exclusively with custodial and community youth justice services. One of these is based at Forensicare, and provides direct services into the Parkville Youth Justice Precinct, as well as coordinating the initiative overall and supervising the other five clinicians.
Clinicians provide hands on training and capacity building for youth justice staff, as well as consultancy and direct clinical services for young people on youth justice orders.
Practical outcomes from this initiative include earlier identification and intervention with mental health problems for youth justice clients, improved access to appropriate mental health treatment and support for those clients, enhanced capability, skill and confidence of youth justice and mental health staff to respond effectively to young people in the youth justice system requiring mental health support, and improved pro-social functioning and life chances of these young people.
Evaluation indicates that this initiative has been very successful. In particular, Forensicare’s involvement in coordination and training has been praised by key stakeholders in Youth Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services.