Congressional testimony highlights mental health issues in the juvenile justice system

APA member Linda Teplin, PhD, testified at a March 11 hearing on girls in the juvenile justice system. Her statement addressed the critical and widespread mental health needs of detained youth and discussed best practices for intervention.

On March 11, Linda Teplin, PhD, presented a statement to the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Health Families and Communities based on her study of Chicago youth detained in the juvenile justice system. Her written testimony addressed the needs of all youth—boys and girls—while her oral remarks outlined the stark situation faced by detained girls, including:

  • mental health disorders in 75 percent of girls;

  • co-morbid disorders in over 50 percent of girls; and

  • problems related to histories of physical and sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Teplin also made recommendations for improving service delivery to these youth, including:

  • increasing diversion before detention;

  • improving mental health screening at intake and detention;

  • appropriate treatment in detention and connection to community-based care, upon release; and

  • the need for appropriate interventions for co-morbid disorders.

Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY, left) and APA member Linda Teplin, PhD (right)