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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2018 Dec;57(12):903-905. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2018.08.012.

Mobile Health (mHealth): Building the Case for Adapting Emerging Technologies for Justice-Involved Youth.

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Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior and the Center for Social Medicine and Humanities, UCLA Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, Los Angeles, CA. Electronic address:
UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences and Division of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, CA, and the University of Western Sydney, Penrith, Australia.
University of California, Los Angeles and the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, Los Angeles, CA.


The term justice-involved youth encompasses a broad range of youth. It can include youth who have not been detained and have been placed on probation or diversion programs, as well re-entry populations transitioning out of detention facilities or stated custody and placed on probation or parole. There are more than 1.3 million juvenile arrests per year, and on any given day there are 50,821 youth incarcerated in the United States. Of the 716,000 delinquency cases, probation is court-ordered for approximately half.1 Even among these youth who are supervised in the community, rates of mental health and substance use disorders are high, with more than two-thirds reporting substance use problems or other mental health disorders.2 However, these youth often have a hard time connecting to and staying in treatment,3 and recidivism is high-most commonly for failing to satisfy the myriad (and well intentioned) conditions of their probation.4 Dual diagnosis (ie, co-occurring psychiatric and substance use disorders) in justice-involved youth is one of the most significant predictors of recidivism,5 and, as such, closing the gap between need and receipt of substance use and mental health treatment for justice-involved youth could potentially offset rates of re-offending into adulthood.6 Despite high rates of mental health and substance use disorders among justice-involved adolescents, only 15% of detained youth receive mental health treatment for their condition(s); this number falls to 8% once these youth re-enter the community.7 These statistics regarding treatment receipt among justice-involved youth are important to consider not only from a health care perspective but also in terms of public health significance and policy.


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