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New youth forensic mental health services announced

New youth forensic mental health services announced

Forensic mental health services are being boosted by $33 million to improve early intervention and treatment services for youth offenders, Associate Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman announced today.

The funding, spread over four years, will provide mental health, alcohol and drug assessment services for the 4200 young offenders who appear in youth courts each year. This will allow referral to relevant health services as appropriate.

''Identifying and addressing alcohol and drug issues, as well as any underlying mental health conditions, as part of the court process could help turn young lives around,'' says Dr Coleman.

An additional 41 FTE mental health workers will be employed across New Zealand. As part of their role, these workers will operate in all 63 youth courts to provide coordination between the courts and mental health services. They will also be involved in providing care for those offenders assessed as needing intervention.

A major new development is the funding of 8-10 new secure forensic mental health beds for young people requiring hospitalisation. These beds will provide care for up to 65 individuals who need acute treatment each year and will be available from 2013. Back in July, Capital & Coast DHB opened a six-bed national secure forensic unit for youth offenders with an intellectual disability, and this will complement this service.

''These services will help fill the gaps in current youth forensic mental health services and assist DHBs in providing a nationally consistent level of youth focused services across the country,'' Dr Coleman says.

''The new services will help improve youth mental health and break the cycle of offending by ensuring early intervention, and where necessary, treatment in a secure environment.''

BACKGROUND

What is proposed

New youth specialist forensic mental health, alcohol and other drug services for young offenders. These services will include community based as well as secure hospital beds.

Community youth forensic services

There will be an additional 10 FTE specialist clinicians per year for the next four years (41 in total). Services include:

§ triage, screening, and assessment of youth offenders

§ court liaison services across the country in all youth courts

§ treatment of mental health and alcohol and other drug problems

§ clinical care for youth in Child, Youth and Family (CYF) youth justice residences and youth prisons

The community services will provide:

§ brief assessments and referrals for 4,200 youth offenders each year

§ forensic assessment and follow-up care for approximately 700 youth (aged less than 17 years) with mental health and alcohol and other drug needs in CYF justice residences each year

§ forensic assessment and follow-up care for approximately 250 youth (aged 17-19 years) with mental health and alcohol and other drug needs in prison youth units each year

§ specialist forensic consultation and liaison services for professionals in health services and the justice sector.

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