Date of Conferral
An increasing number of juvenile offenders with untreated mental health issues are entering the justice system. Lack of adequate training of criminal justice personnel enhances the possibility of this population being arrested which is creating an overwhelming problem for stakeholders. This study sought to determine if the implementation of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training impacted law enforcement officers’ (LEOs’) mental health literacy. This mixed-methods study used a quasi-experimental, one-group, pretest-posttest design, with a qualitative survey. Participants consisted of a sample of 28 LEOs from a rural Southeastern United States law enforcement agency. Study findings indicated that MHFA training increased LEOs’ mental health literacy. LEO participants reported feeling better prepared to identify and appropriately address juveniles with mental health issues. The findings of this study indicated that increased mental health literacy provides LEOs the ability to appropriately address this vulnerable population, which has the potential to increase the safety element of the encounter. Recommendations derived from this study are to provide MHFA training to all LEOs to increase or enhance mental health literacy as encounters with juveniles with mental health issues are occurring on an increasing basis. Social change implications include informing policymakers of the importance of implementing MHFA training to LEOs to increase identification skills of mental health issues, which promotes safety for the individuals as well as the officers. Study results could impact the way juveniles with mental health issues are addressed, promoting decreased numbers of this population entering the juvenile justice system.