The Children’s Mental Health Campaign works to address the mental health needs of court involved youth and youth in the juvenile justice system. The majority of court involved youth experience some form of trauma before entering the legal system, and require access to appropriate and timely mental health care services. CMHC supports efforts to ensure the legal system is equipped to respond to juveniles in a manner that is both humane and age-appropriate.
Health Law Advocates’ (HLA) Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids (MHAP 4 Kids) aims to ensure that court-involved youth get access to the mental health care and services they need. This growing network of attorneys, embeds high skilled advocates into Massachusetts Family Resource Centers. MHAP for Kids is a highly effective model for increasing access to mental health care, educational support, and other critical resources and services for youth. MHAP for Kids is a proven model for improving the overall wellness of children and families. HLA's ultimate goal is replicate and sustain the model program in a way that benefits all children across the Commonwealth.
What services does MHAP for Kids provide?
- Begin or improve special education services
- Secure and/or coordinate community-based mental health services
- Collaborate with Dept. of Children and Families, Dept. of Mental Health, and Dept. of Developmental Services
- Advocate for general education accommodations
- Assist with health insurance coverage
Boston University's School of Public Health conducted a 2-year study on the efficacy of MHAP for Kids. Some key highlights:
- Improved school attendance
- Decreased use of emergency mental health services by children
- Decreased inpatient hospitalizations of children
- Decreased children's stays in residential facilities
- Decreased children's stays in emergency shelters
- Significantly improved overall mental health of children
- Significantly reduced parental rates of depression
- Significantly decreased parental stress
Make sure to read Boston University's report examining the efficacy of the Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids!
Studies show that, in the United States, 65-70% of justice-involved youth has a diagnosable mental health disorder. Consideration of developmental and environmental factors including trauma, biologically based mental health conditions and substance use disorders must be taken into account when it comes to the imposition of appropriate consequences in criminal proceedings.
The growing body of scientific evidence regarding developmental differences between adolescents and adults is now widely accepted and has informed decisions by both the US Supreme Court and the MA Supreme Court in which they establish legal distinctions regarding in the criminal culpability of adults and juveniles. Paramount among those distinctions is the capacity for change.