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Introduction to the Juvenile Mental Health Court

Hello Healthy Minds followers!

We wanted to start off our blogging journey by sharing a bit about one of the specialized services we provide. We’ll venture through numerous topics in the Healthy Minds Blog, addressing a variety of subjects related to education, child development, mental health, and special needs. Today, we start with our work in the court system.

Unique in its design, the Juvenile Mental Health Court (JMHC) is composed of an interdisciplinary team including a judge, public defender(s) and defense attorney(s), probation officers, a psychiatric social worker, a consulting psychiatrist and psychologist, and an education specialist. This specialized court room is part of the Los Angeles County juvenile delinquency court system and serves youth with developmental delays and/or significant mental health needs. The team has specialized knowledge and expertise in mental health and works collaboratively to ensure the youth and their families have the support needed to increase positive outcomes and reduce recidivism. In other words, we help the youth get back on track so that they don’t continue to get in trouble with the law.

Healthy Minds Consulting is honored to be in its 7th year of service with the Juvenile Mental Health Court (JMHC). (My, how time flies!) We provide educational consultation to the court team and families, and provide advocacy support for the youth, facilitating access to an educational program that will support their current and future goals. Most of the youth who are part of the JMHC are kids who have fallen through every crack in every system, and are now in trouble with the law as well. For many, it may be the first time their developmental disability or mental health needs have ever been adequately or thoroughly assessed. Identifying these needs is the first step toward accessing appropriate and supportive services – at school, at home, and in the community.

Being part of this extraordinary team allows for a rare opportunity to collaborate with many different professionals with varying perspectives, ensuring the youth are provided with a well thought-out set of services tailored to their individual needs. Identifying the youths’ often complicated needs and connecting them with the supports and services that can best address those needs, often gives the families a renewed sense of hope and the support the youth need to become productive citizens who contribute positively to their communities.