Mental Health Screening in Juvenile Justice Settings

This resource was selected by SMI Adviser content partners and approved by the SMI Adviser clinical expert team for inclusion in the knowledge base.

One of the most important steps in responding to the behavioral health treatment needs of youth in the juvenile justice system is to systematically identify these needs as youth become involved with the system. The  development of sound screening and assessment capacity is critical to effectively identify and ultimately respond to mental illness and substance use disorders. With the development over the last 10-15 years of easy-to-use screening tools, many designed to be used by non-clinical staff, the field has taken a major step forward in responding to the behavioral health needs of youth in the system. An overview of screening, accompanied by a four-phase, ten-step guide generated from input by the juvenile justice field, is presented in this guide. This ten-step guide draws heavily from Dr. Thomas Grisso’s work on screening. Each of the steps includes resources for juvenile justice professionals and administrators, behavioral health partners, and other stakeholders seeking to implement screening.


To see more resources from the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice at

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