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), directed by Dr. Katherine Elkington, is at the forefront of local and national efforts to promote behavioral health services in community and youth justice settings. Founded by Dr. Gail Wasserman (originally Center for the Promotion of Mental Health in Juvenile Justice), the Center is housed within the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

The Center's work focuses on identifying the mental health and substance use treatment needs of youth involved in the justice system, facilitating, and improving collaborations between the justice and behavioral health systems, and developing approaches to better serve vulnerable youth-- whether it be through prvention, treatment, or service linkage and engagement programs and protocols.

Since its inception in 2001, the Center has assisted with the delivery of behavioral health services at the state and local levels for youth involved in the justice system, impacting policy and research priorities nationwide.

Research at the Center for Behavioral Health and Youth Justice focuses on four main areas:

  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.

Opportunities to join our team: