Increasing Juvenile Mental Health Referrals by Utilizing the Youth Behavioral Health Liaison Initiative
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Over sixty-seven percent of our youth in the juvenile justice system have at least one psychiatric mental health disorder and almost half of those have more than one psychiatric mental health disorder. Over twenty percent of juveniles 17 and under recidivate or repeat criminal activities within a year. Juvenile recidivism is a complex and costly dilemma leading to adult incarceration and negatively affecting future generations. Systematic change happens through proactive juvenile participation and interventions delivered by a qualified community support team. Early screening and referrals increase the ability to understand circumstances surrounding juvenile system involvement and create opportunities to provide timely individualized community support. Research supports the idea that short-term, court-ordered programs do not promote long-term success. Surrounding youth with positive holistic community support creates purpose and transforms youth into meaningful contributors to society. The purpose of this quality improvement two cohort design compares baseline data to determine if a youth behavioral health liaison at the project site would promote a rapid referral process by juvenile officers. The project site covers nine rural counties in North Missouri and three Judicial Circuits. The proposed goal improved early access to mental health services with one hundred seven referrals through other law enforcement agencies, school systems, and Children’s Division while juvenile justice system referrals decreased from thirty-six in 2018 down to fifteen after a nine-month period of using a rapid referral process through utilization of The Youth Behavioral Health Liaison Initiative in 2022-2023.
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