Mental Health Needs of Community Based Young Offenders in a City Setting

Published 14/12/2011
Type Article
Author(s) Ruth Marshall, Louise Theodosiou, Benedict Pease, Natalie Kirby
Corresponding Authors Ruth Marshall, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, The Winnicott Centre

Research has demonstrated higher than average levels of mental health problems among young offenders. These mental health needs are often unmet. The mental health needs of ethnic minority groups and young people with combined mental health problems and substance misuse need to be further elucidated.

All young people open to a Youth Offending Service (YOS) were invited to opt-out or participate. Young people and their key workers were asked to fill out versions of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, Conners short form and a qualitative questionnaire establishing ethnicity and investigating perceived mental health needs and substance abuse.

Rates of mental health needs were higher than in the general population of this city, as was substance misuse. The ethnic minority population was  overrepresented, although the white British sample had higher levels of mental health needs.

Intervention and treatment was either limited or fragmented in meeting the needs of these vulnerable young people. The findings have been shared with the YOS, this will hopefully lead to an increase in referrals to child and adolescent mental health services.