A PHS 795 student discusses an article that addresses both the importance of early intervention in altering health trajectories and the question of efficient allocation of time. Encounter with the juvenile justice system is a “critical moment” for intervention for children with undiagnosed (or untreated) behavioral health issues. It is sometimes quite challenging to integrate systems across large programmatic divides (such as health and education or health and criminal justice). But such integration will become more important as we address the deep determinants of population health. Our classmate writes:
This article discusses integrating child-serving systems to best meet the needs of children whom tend to end up in the juvenile justice system. There is a wealth of research showing that youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system have significantly higher rates of poor mental health and substance use compared to youth of the general population. Subsequently, children who encounter one system, such as the juvenile justice system, mental health services, schools, the child welfare system, or other system, are at higher risk for contact with another system. Despite this, the different systems that address the needs of youth do not seem to work together. This article argues for a more integrated child-serving system that would allow for the early identification of problems and improved access to services.
While reading this article, I was reminded of Dr. John Mullahy’s discussion of time allocation and health. Dr. Mullahy primarily addressed individual time allocation and health. This article got me thinking about allocating time on a larger scale (i.e. how businesses and organizations allocate time) and how collaborations across organizations can minimize time and maximize health in a population. I believe these kinds of collaborations have the potential to dramatically reduce the time devoted by each organization, which also reduces the cost. For example, noticing a child’s poor mental health status and addressing it early may prevent this individuals desire to commit crime, eliminating their contact with the juvenile justice system. Because youth who are arrested are less likely to graduate high school, which we know is associated with several other negative health behaviors, preventing criminal behavior by addressing needs early can improve health long-term for these children. Connecticut has developed what sounds like a very promising approach for improving integration across systems. I look forward to hearing about the effectiveness of Connecticut’s partnerships.
|Better Integrating Behavioral Health, Juvenile Justice Systems Will Rescue More Kids
It is now well-known that youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system have high rates of mental health and substance abuse conditions — rates that far exceed those of the general youth population.