National Center for Youth Law


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NCYL Releases New Review of Alameda County’s Collaborative Mental Health Court

Youth spend less time in detention and are less likely to get in trouble with the law after participating in Alameda County’s Collaborative Mental Health Court.

In this report, Improving Outcomes for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System, NCYL describes the workings of the Court, its participants, and the results the Court has seen since it began in 2007.

Juvenile mental health courts focus on treating rather than punishing incarcerated youth, most of whom suffer from a diagnosable mental illness.

“I didn’t want them to [help me], but they did — at school, at home, with my mental stages … Everything is different, the way I smile and walk and act is different. I finally got to be a teenager again.” – Youth Participant, Alameda County Collaborative Mental Health Court

This report is made possible by the support of Alameda County’s Department of Health and Human Services, and the California Endowment. Civil advocacy is an essential component of the mental health courts, and improves the diversionary potential of the courts. Most fundamentally, civil advocates improve access to resources and services. The National Center for Youth Law’s (NCYL) role in the mental health courts is to coordinate the civil advocacy component and promote potential for diversion and access to mental health services. NCYL also works in the same capacity with the juvenile collaborative court in Santa Clara County, known as the Court for the Individualized Treatment of Adolescents (CITA).

Article about Alameda County Juvenile Mental Health Court Wins Award

Freelance journalist Laurie Udesky’s article in the East Bay Express about the Alameda County Collaborative Mental Health Court has won a Price Child Health and Welfare Journalism award from the Children’s Advocacy Institute in San Diego. Udesky’s award-winning piece ran in the Oct. 28, 2009 issue of the Express, a weekly paper that covers Alameda and Contra Costa counties in California.

The Price Child Health and Welfare Journalism Awards are presented annually for excellence in journalism for a story or series of stories that makes a significant impact on the well being of children in California, and advances the understanding of child health and welfare issues in this state.

Laurie’s article tells the story of a young girl whose participation in the Collaborative Court has helped transform her from an angry, impulsive teenager in juvenile detention to a honors student and high school graduate who plans to get her own apartment, work part-time, and earn a college degree.