About CBHYJ

Center for Behavioral Health and Youth Justice

To promote the behavioral health of underserved, vulnerable youth through multi-level research that develops, implements, and evaluates evidence-based practices to identify, prevent and address suicidality, mental health and substance use disorders among youth within the justice system.

About

The Center for Behavioral Health and Youth Justice (CBHYJ)  founded by Dr. Gail Wasserman (originally Center for the Promotion of Mental Health in Juvenile Justice) and directed by Dr. Katherine Elkington is at the forefront of local and national efforts to promote the behavioral health of underserved, vulnerable youth in community and juvenile justice settings.

Research, including work conducted by the Center, has documented exceptionally high rates of behavioral health disorders yet low service uptake among youth involved in the justice system. When available, behavioral health assessment, prevention, and treatment resources for these youth are frequently inconsistent with evidence-based instruments, programs, and protocols, and inadequate to meet youths’ needs. For youth involved in the justice system, approaches to improve identification of behavioral health disorders, reduce risk, promote resilience, and increase access to evidence-based behavioral health services require comprehensive methods addressing system-, family- and youth-level factors. To this end, the Center has 4 main areas of focus:

  1. Documenting the prevalence of mental health and substance use disorders and uptake of behavioral health services among youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
  2. Using ecological approaches to understand multi-level influences on mental health and substance use disorders, and disparities in service use among youth involved in the justice system.
  3. Developing multi-level interventions to reduce risk behaviors, promote resilience and increase equity in behavioral health service access and use.
  4. Drawing on implementation science to develop and evaluate sustainable, effective, and appropriate best practices to promote cross-system collaboration between justice and behavioral health to increase access and service uptake among youth involved in the justice system.