Mental Health Screening within Juvenile Justice: The Next Frontier discusses issues surrounding screening youth in contact with the juvenile justice system. Topics addressed include screening procedures, policies, and implementation.

This document offers perspectives from three professionals who work in the juvenile justice field with topics covering:

  • A general introduction to screening in juvenile justice settings
  • Procedures, policies, and best practices concerning appropriate uses of screening results
  • The implementation of mental health screening in juvenile justice settings

The document then further provides case examples where screenings have been introduced in juvenile justice settings.

The number of juvenile justice programs across the country performing routine mental health screening on youth has increased substantially over recent decades. As this has occurred, it has become critically important to address new policy and practice questions that have emerged. This paper is designed to answer these questions by offering clarification and guidance. In some instances, the clarification provided is based on lessons learned from the field. Throughout the paper, case examples are provided that illustrate how existing communities and programs have developed policies or procedures that facilitate mental health screening within juvenile justice settings.

The National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice (NCYOJ) originally developed and maintained this resource. The NCYOJ was operated by Policy Research, Inc. and operated from 2001 to 2022 and was formerly known as the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. The NCYOJ improved life opportunities for youth through systems and practice improvement initiatives.

This resource should be viewed as a reference document. It has not been updated since its publication. In addition, this document has not been made 508 compliant. If you would like a 508 compliant version of this document, please email

This resource was first shared in 2007.

(PDF, 239KB)