Detained Calif. Youth Face More Mental Illness, Hospitalizations
Many children in California's juvenile justice system are hospitalized for mental health issues because they did not receive care before they were arrested or while they were in detention centers, according to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Reuters reports.
Details of Study
For the study, researchers compared the mental health and associated physical and behavioral issues of 11,367 detained youth with that of 1.9 million children of similar ages in the general California community between 1997 and 2011 (Neumann, Reuters, 8/12). The youth, ages 11 to 18, were considered to be detained if they were admitted to a hospital from detention centers, were transferred to detention after a hospital stay or both (Anoshiravani et al., JAH, 7/21).
Mental health issues examined in the study included:
- Anxiety and stress;
- Depression; and
- Disruptive or psychotic behavior.
Associated problems included:
- Trauma; and
- Other medical issues.
The study found that 63% of detained youth had primary diagnoses of mental health issues, compared with 20% of kids in the general community.
Among detained teenagers:
- 74% of girls had mental health issues; and
- 58% of boys had mental health issues.
Further, youth in the justice system were hospitalized a day or two longer than their counterparts. Detained youth also were more likely to be covered by public health insurance.
According to the study, more detained black and Hispanic children were hospitalized for each associated problem except for pregnancy, compared with their non-detained peers in the state.
The study also found that following discharge from the hospital:
- More detained teens had substance use disorders, compared with non-detained youth; and
- More detained youth had anxiety and stress, depression, disruptive disorders and psychosis, compared with non-detained youth.
Lead author Arash Anoshiravani said that health care and social services officials should partner to deliver care to such California children before they are detained (Reuters, 8/12).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.