Increased mental health services needed
In my practice, I continually deal with mental health issues, whether in the criminal and juvenile justice arenas or when they factor into issues in civil cases. Many of these issues manifest themselves when the afflicted are juveniles or young adults. When children’s mental health issues are virtually ignored, they will not disappear.
Although most persons who suffer from mental illness never interface with the criminal or juvenile justice systems, many of those persons who are involved in them suffer from a mental illness. Unfortunately, due in part to cuts in community mental health services, the population in the Cook County Department of Corrections treats so many mentally ill persons that it is considered the largest mental health hospital in Illinois. Many programs, such as the criminal Mental Health Courts, Drug Courts and Veteran Courts are helping some of those persons.
At the same time, due to budget constraints, the legislature cut mental health service programs directed towards helping children. Such cuts may be necessary to balance the budget today, but if these young persons are left untreated, it may cost society, as well as the state budget, more in the future.