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Psychiatr Serv. 2003 Mar;54(3):377-82.

Clinical utility and policy implications of a statewide mental health screening process for juvenile offenders.

Author information

1
Division of Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle 98103, USA. davidste@u.washington.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

This study examined the utility of screening adjudicated juvenile offenders for mental health symptoms at intake to the State of Washington Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration. The authors assessed the ability of a screening measure, the Massachusetts Youth Screening Inventory, second edition (MAYSI-2), to identify youths with mental health problems and co-occurring substance use problems. This study also examined the relationship of these symptoms to treatment utilization both before and after intake to the juvenile justice system. Ethnic and gender differences in the screening results were studied.

METHODS:

The MAYSI-2 was administered to 1,840 youths consecutively admitted to state custody. Cluster analysis was used to group the youths by mental health symptom status, and the relationship between symptoms and treatment utilization was tested in the groups identified in the cluster analysis.

RESULTS:

Youths who reported a high level of mental health symptoms, with or without co-occurring substance use problems, were more likely to have received previous mental health treatment than youths with a low level of mental health symptoms. Youths with a high level of mental health symptoms were more likely to receive extraordinary sentences and were thus less likely to be eligible for community transition programs than youths with a low level of mental health symptoms. Significant gender and ethnic differences in mental health symptom reporting on the screening inventory were found. Female offenders were significantly more likely than male offenders to report a high level of symptoms, and Hispanic youths were significantly less likely than youths in other ethnic groups to report a high level of symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS:

The MAYSI-2 has utility in identifying youths in the juvenile justice system who have mental health problems, and MAYSI-2 results are related to use of treatment services both before and after intake to the juvenile justice system. Ethnic and gender differences in MAYSI-2 reporting must be considered in interpreting mental health screening data.

PMID:
12610247
DOI:
10.1176/appi.ps.54.3.377
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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