children’s mental health and the juvenile justice system

children’s mental health and the juvenile justice system

Perhaps one of a parent’s greatest fears is having a child get in trouble with the law. That fear is amplified for parents who have a child diagnosed with a mental illness.

In an informational video titled, “Working with the Juvenile Justice System”, presented by One in Five Minds, Jeannie Von Stultz, PhD, Deputy Chief for Mental Health Services with the Bexar County Juvenile Probation Office, shares her insights and lessons learned from more than 20 years of experience working with children and teens with mental health diagnoses.

Dr. Von Stultz makes several critical, key points and observations that all parents of a mentally ill child should note:

  • Between 30% and 50% of children in the juvenile justice system experience mental illness.
  • Mentally ill children in and out of the juvenile system need a strong support network and regular care and treatment in order to be successful in life.
  • Family involvement is the single best asset a mentally ill child can have, especially if the child gets in trouble with the law.

Dr.Von Stultz touches on the common emotions most family share when their children are in the juvenile system including fear, anger and even relief. She also shares important information on how parents can best navigate the complexity of the system.

The Bexar County Juvenile System is very aware of the issue of mental illness and is geared to support children with such needs. Dr. Von Stultz emphasizes the importance of communication among all parties involved in the process, including the police, the court and detention facility staff. She further notes that in specialty court environments, the judge is considered a part of the child’s care team and is involved with his or her treatment plan.

To learn more about the experiences of children with mental illness in the juvenile justice system and how families can best support those children, click here to watch the 15-minute video. We think it will be time well spent.

Mike Hannan

As the director of communications for Clarity Child Guidance Center, Mike shares the insights  of children’s mental health experts, both inside and outside of Clarity CGC, who work with families looking for answers about their children’s mental health.

If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 9-1-1. If you need help locating mental health resources in your area, visit the Bexar County Community Resource website, call your local health department or the National Alliance on Mental Illness's helpline at 800-950- NAMI (6264).