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July 08, 2004
Children await mental health services in detention
Read more... Schizophrenia Advocacy
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) have recently commissioned the first Congressional investigation into children with mental health needs improperly incarcerated and forced to wait for services in juvenile detention centers.
The report findings were staggering. Key statistics include the following:
-Over a 6-month period, nearly 15,000 youth in detention centers were waiting for mental health services. The number of youth waiting in detention each night for needed services represents about 7% of all incarcerated youth.
-While waiting in detention for health services, youth in over 160 facilities attempted suicide. Research indicates that youth in detention commit suicide at a rate 4 times greater than that of the general young population.
-A quarter of the detention centers that answered the survey indicated that they provide no or inadequate mental health services. One administrator from Pennsylvania stated that "mentally ill youth placed in juvenile detention facilities stress our centers more than any other problem." Moreover, the estimated cost to such facilities due to mentally ill youth come to about $100 million.
Suggested legislation to address the problem includes the Keeping Families Together Act, a bill supporting state efforts to coordinate care and improve community-based services for mentally ill children.
Tammy Seltzer, senior staff attorney at Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, supported the bill.
"Today's hearing underscores the critical need to do something concrete to address the crisis in children's mental health...Senator [Susan] Collins' bill is an essential step toward creating a children's mental health system where kids get services, not jail time, when they need help."
The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law is a national legal advocate for children and adults with mental disabilities. For more information, see http://www.bazelon.org.
View the survey and its findings at http://www.house.gov/reform/min/
See the full news article at http://releases.usnewswire.com
Posted by Julia at July 8, 2004 05:15 PM
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