Cherie Townsend, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, informed state officials this week that more than half of the individuals in the state’s youth prisons have a moderate or high need for mental health care. Taking into account those individuals who have “at least some kind of mental health care needs” would push that percentage much higher, she claims.

As The Statesman reports, Townsend also urged officials to place more focus on improving early intervention efforts so that fewer youths would end up behind bars in Texas’ six juvenile detention facilities.

But Rep. Charles Perry questioned whether too many youths are being classified as having mental health problems. “I’m a little nervous about the discussion,” he said, “because I know kids that act out that have no mental health issues, and just act out because they act out.”

Source: The Statesman

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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