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James Plastiras Director of Public Information New York State Office of Mental Health 518-474-6540 james.plastiras@omh.ny.gov

May 07, 2018

Office of Mental Health Recognizes Orange County Diversion Program Serving First Time Juvenile Offenders

The Mental Health Juvenile Justice Program Honored for its Collaborative Efforts to Divert Youth from Potential Incarceration to Behavioral Health Treatment

Albany, NY – The Mental Health Juvenile Justice Program - a diversion program run by Rehabilitation Support Services - has been honored at the New York State Office of Mental Health’s "What’s Great in our State 2018" event. The annual event, held May 8 in Albany, celebrates the people and programs making a difference in the field of children’s mental health.

The Mental Health Juvenile Justice (MH/JJ) Program began in Orange County in 2014 as a collaborative effort between Rehabilitation Support Services, local police departments, probation, and social services to address the needs of youth in the juvenile justice system.  This clinically-based program works with first time youthful offenders to identify mental health and substance abuse needs and divert youth into treatment early in the process. The goal is to avoid further entry into the juvenile justice system, possible detention and out-of-home placement.   Since inception, the MH/JJ program has been expanded to cover all three Orange County cities and is available to youth outside of these high-needs areas at the request of Probation. 

“The Mental Health Juvenile Justice Program is a perfect example of how the dedication of a single program can make a profound impact for children and families that face mental health issues. This program has an almost 100% success rate of preventing re-offense by providing youth with the treatment they need to get back on track to living their best lives,” said New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Marie T. Sullivan. “We thank the Mental Health Juvenile Justice Program and each of our honorees for their hard work and commitment to children’s mental health.”

The MH/JJ program was honored for its proven success in decreasing recidivism, detention stays, and out-of-home placement.  The program has also created a strong working relationship between law enforcement and the social services community.

"We are so honored to be recognized for our efforts in helping troubled youth avoid incarceration and recover from their mental health and substance abuse issues. The work that our team does on a day to day basis is truly a collaborative effort with probation and is a model program for the state of New York,” said Kristen Fortuna, the program coordinator at Rehabilitation Support Services, and supervisor of the MH/JJ program. “We are so proud of them and the work they do on behalf of the youth of Orange County."

 For more information on Rehabilitation Support Services, visit http://rehab.org/.

‘What’s Great in Our State’

‘What’s Great in Our State’ is an annual event hosted by the New York State Office of Mental Health, the New York State Council on Children and Families, and a number of children’s mental health advocacy organizations in order to celebrate the individuals and programs that are successfully advancing the cause of children’s mental health in New York State. The event features a reading of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement proclaiming the week as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a ceremony recognizing our honorees, and an art show featuring artwork created by children receiving services from New York State’s mental health system. This year’s event will also feature two keynote speakers and a moderated round-table discussion featuring the awardees.

The event coincides with Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a national movement that seeks to raise awareness about the importance of children’s mental health and to show that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth.

For more information on the partners involved with this year’s ‘What’s Great in Our State’ event, visit https://conta.cc/2ppIfwS.


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