The Prevalence and Impact of Mental Health Disorders on Youth in the Juvenile Justice System 2
The Prevalence and Impact of Mental Health Disorders
on Youth in the Juvenile Justice System
The prevalence of mental health disorders among the youth and adolescents in the juvenile justice system is at an alarming high. Estimates reveal that approximately 50% to 75% of the 2 million individuals encountering the juvenile justice system in some way meet the criteria for a mental health disorder (Underwood, 2016) Unfortunately due to a shift in the way the juvenile justice system is handling the treatment of the convicted, individuals with mental health disturbances are receiving inadequate care and more likely than not- causing the individuals to reoffend and end up in the adult criminal justice system. There is a rising need for the re-evaluation of proper screening, evaluation and implementation of treatment options among the juvenile justice system in order to prevent youth from re-entering the system.
There are an average of 100,000 adolescents and youth currently detained in juvenile justice facilities across North America (Odgers, 2005) This alarming number of individuals have ultimately been incarcerated due to their inappropriate, violent and aggressive behaviours that have caused them to break the law. Although approximately 65% of the youth in the juvenile justice system do meet the criteria for having a conduct disorder, studies are beginning to show that the majority of the population within the juvenile corrections system suffers from at least one mental illness. (Odgers, 2005) These studies have indicated that there are specific mental illnesses that prevail among the youth offenders, and that the symptoms of these disorders increase the risk in the youth and adolescence engaging in delinquent behaviour. (Underwood, 2016) “Commonly found mental health disorders in youth offenders include, affective disorders (major depression, persistent depression, and manic episodes), psychotic disorders, anxiety disorders (panic, separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder), disruptive behavior disorders (conduct, oppositional defiant disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), and substance use disorders” (Underwood, 2016) ). Grisso (2008) notes that of the youth involved in the juvenile corrections system approximately 15% to 30% have depression, 13% to 30% have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, 3% to 7% have bipolar disorder and 11% to 32% have posttraumatic stress disorder
Underwood (2016) goes on to note that understanding the link between youth delinquent behaviour and the possibility of the presence of one or more mental disorders. Youth that suffer from various mood disorders are far more likely to behave in a hostile or irritable way. “The irritable mood that often accompanies depressive disorders increases youths’ probability of inciting angry responses from...