Advocate for Improved Mental Health Access and Equity

NCYL engages in impact litigation and policy advocacy, and develops research, tools, and trainings to ensure that children and youth get the mental health care that they need and deserve.

Mental health is health. NCYL believes that adequate and appropriate mental health care supports and services are just as vital to youth's healthy development as routine medical care is. While there is growing awareness that mental health is a critical component of whole-body health care, laws, policies and practices often fall far behind the curve.

We engage in policy advocacy to expand mental health education and to normalize and improve access to quality mental health care in supportive school and community environments. And we build tools, resources and trainings, and engage in direct partnerships with health providers and professionals so they can understand the law and how to best serve children and youth.

Not too much, not too little

Many children - including and especially those involved in the foster care, immigration and juvenile justice systems - receive dangerously inadequate and / or inappropriate mental health care. Often, children are denied access to the mental health services they need. Others are prescribed psychotropic medications inappropriately or without proper oversight or forced into institutionalized care that unnecessarily removes them from their families and supportive communities. And some youth who exhibit unmet mental health needs are blamed and criminalized for their behaviors, instead of being offered the support and treatment they need.

NCYL has partnered with youth to bring impact litigation against states that has resulted in groundbreaking, statewide reforms. We continue to pursue impact litigation to stop the under- over- and misuse of mental health services.