Telepsychiatry in the Juvenile Justice System
Deborah Brooks, MD

  • Youth in Department of Juvenile Justice System settings are a particularly underserved population; telepsychiatry can help bridge the gap in their access to evidence-based care and timely evaluations.
  • Evaluating youth in Department of Juvenile Services settings can be challenging due to youths’ reluctance to speak with psychiatric and other mental health staff, particularly if sessions interfere with their participation in recreational activities.
  • Telepsychiatrists working with youth in the Department of Juvenile Justice must define their role in the youth’s system of care and treatment, eg to clarify a forensic vs direct care role.
  • On-site therapists typically participate in sessions to aid the psychiatrist in obtaining pertinent patient information and to facilitate clinical care.
  • Correctional staff typically do not participate in sessions as youth may be concerned about privacy and/or repercussions during incarceration. 
  • In Juvenile Justice settings, telepsychiatrists may need to broach topics with youth more directly, for instance, bringing up a topic that they had read about in the youth's records    
  • Telepsychiatrists should be familiar with jurisdictional regulations regarding consent to pharmacological treatment of minors in correctional settings.
  • Telepsychiatrists may ask staff at the correctional setting to provide a “virtual tour” of the facility with a mobile device to ensure privacy, security, management of mental health records, and other concerns.


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  2. Kaliebe KE, Heneghan J, Kim T. Telepsychiatry in juvenile justice settings. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America.. 2011; 20(1): 113-123.
  3. Myers K, Valentine J, Morganthaler R, Melzer S. Telepsychiatry with incarcerated youth. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2006; 38: 643-648.