Find Help, Find Hope!

CIT for Youth

CIT for Youth

Approximately 13% of youth live with a serious mental illness.1 Only about 20% of these youth get the treatment they need.2 All too often they end up in the juvenile justice system, where 70% of youth are living with one or more mental health conditions.3

To address the school to prison pipeline, communities around the country have expanded their Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs to meet the specific needs of youth.

Improving Interactions between Youth and Law Enforcement

CIT for Youth programs teach law enforcement officers to connect youth with mental health needs to effective services and supports in their community. The goal is to intervene early in emerging mental health issues and prevent youth from becoming involved in the juvenile justice system.

The programs work with schools, school based police officers, children’s mental health providers and parents to accomplish these goals.

CIT for Youth Training

CIT for Youth training is generally an advanced training or add-on for the standard CIT training. Communities vary in the amount of training they offer—from 8 hours to 40 hours in addition to the 40 already required for CIT.

In general, CIT for Youth programs train officers on adolescent brain development and how mental health symptoms manifest with youth. Children and youth express their distress differently than adults and often respond to different styles of interaction. In addition, the training helps officers and school staff work to better address mental health concerns in a school setting.

NAMI’s CIT for Youth Implementation Manual

For step-by-step guidance on implementing this program in your community, download Responding to Youth with Mental Health Needs: A CIT for Youth Implementation Manual or purchase it in our store. There are five steps to implementation:

  1. Building Community Partnerships. Just like CIT, the key to CIT for Youth is strong working relationships between families, schools, mental health providers and law enforcement. Learn how to build these relationships for a solid foundation.
  2. Conducting Asset Mapping. To get a handle of what’s working—and what’s not—we recommend bringing together law enforcement, schools, juvenile justice system and youth-serving systems to map out the resources and gaps in  your community.
  3. Planning and Coordinating. Once you know how your system is working, you and your partners can decide where changes need to be made—whether it’s addressing a gap in services, changing a policy or providing transportation to needy families.
  4. Planning CIT for Youth Training. Planning training requires selecting the right officers (most agencies choose to train school-based officers), choosing how much training to provide and recruiting your speakers. Unlike standard CIT, there is not a standard curriculum model, but there are many examples from other communities to get you started.
  5. Measuring Effectiveness and Ensuring Sustainability. To be effective in the long term, you will need to measure the outcomes of your program, sustain your partnerships and get broader community support for the program.

1 Merikangas, K.R., He, J., Brody, D., Fisher, P.W., Bourdon, K., & Koretz, D.S. (2010). Prevalence and treatment of mental disorders among U.S. children in the 2001–2004 NHANES. Pediatrics, 125, 75-81.

2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1999). Mental health: A report of the surgeon general. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health.

3 Skowyra K. & Cocozza, J. (2007). Blueprint for change: A comprehensive model for the identification and treatment of youth with mental health needs in contact with the juvenile justice system. Accessed at www.

Become a Member


Get Involved


Get In Touch