SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Feb. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A state task force on Wednesday issued a final report recommending
"Of the nearly 30,000 youth arrests and 11,000 youth admissions to local jails in Illinois each year, research consistently suggests that approximately 70 percent meet the diagnostic criteria for having a mental health condition, and at least 20 percent live with serious mental health condition, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, and other conditions that severely impair their ability to function," according to the report by the Illinois Mental Health Opportunities for Youth Diversion Task Force.
"Frequently, a youth's disruptive or illegal behavior is related to symptoms of a mental health condition that has gone undetected and untreated," the report states. "Instead of treating these instances as an opportunity to connect these youth to effective community-based mental health services, they are too often directed toward law enforcement. These youth – the majority who have lives already marred by racism, poverty, and violence – then cycle through jails, probation offices, courts, and prisons. The opportunity to divert youth early is wasted, and youth end up in a system that is ill-equipped to provide the necessary treatment."
Created by state statute in 2017, the task force was charged with developing an action plan for new or expanded diversion programs aimed at youth living with mental health conditions in Illinois. Task force members include state legislators and representatives of law enforcement and mental health service providers.
The news release and a copy of the full report, "Stemming the Tide: Diverting Youth with Mental Health Conditions from the Illinois Juvenile Justice System," is available on the websites of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Chicago (namichicago.org/en/reports/) and the Illinois Justice Project (ILJP.org).
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SOURCE Illinois Justice Project
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