Mental Health Programming

Mental health programming includes the screening, assessment and treatment of youth placed in DJJ facilities who have a mental illness, emotional disturbance or substance abuse problem. Within two hours of admission, all youth are screened for treatment history, mental health, traumatic experience, substance abuse, and suicide risk. Approximately 50% of those youth screened upon admission are referred for a more thorough mental health assessment. The primary goal is to identify any at-risk youth as early as possible and then to provide the care required to ensure that their basic mental health needs are met. This goal is accomplished through services provided to youth from designated master’s level mental health clinicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists in each secure facility.

Evidence-based mental health interventions that are delivered by Mental Health staff in DJJ secure facilities include:

  • Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress (SPARCS): This is a group treatment model for youth who have experienced multiple traumatic events. SPARCS focuses on helping youth develop affect/emotional regulation skills, develop healthy self-soothing and self-control techniques, and address their physiological and psychological responses to trauma.

  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT): A conjoint child and parent psychotherapy approach for children and adolescents who are experiencing significant emotional and behavioral difficulties related to traumatic life events. It is a component-based treatment model that incorporates trauma-sensitive interventions with cognitive behavioral, family, and humanistic principles and techniques.

  • Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS): This approach to suicidality integrates a range of theoretical orientations (including psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, humanistic, existential, and interpersonal notions) into a structured clinical format emphasizing the importance of the counselor and client working together to elucidate and understand the "functional" role of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in the patient's life.

  • A New Freedom: New Freedom is a model that is based on evidence-based concepts of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational enhancement (MET), motivational interviewing (MI), trans-theoretical stages of change, the social learning model and key coping and problem solving skills for self-efficacy. New Freedom can be delivered through group and individual therapy.