Abstract and Introduction
Purpose of Review: To describe recent advances in the development of mental health needs screening tools for use with young offenders and implications for this vulnerable group.
Recent Findings: The literature shows that young offenders in North America and Europe have high levels of diverse needs that often go unmet because of lack of methods for recognizing and assessing them. Effective screening could play an important role in improving recognition of these needs. Substantial developments have been occurring in the United States, England and Wales and the Netherlands in developing screening tools for this purpose and for this population. Now, the literature is beginning to provide a broad understanding of the optimal psychometric properties, utility and limitations of the screening tools that are required.
Summary: Several centres are engaged in work to construct mental health screening and assessment tools for use with young offenders. Psychometric measures are being used to determine their validity and reliability. The work has highlighted deficiencies in the healthcare of young persons involved in criminal justice systems but should assist policymakers, healthcare strategists, planners and commissioners to come to better informed decisions about how to utilize most appropriately the limited mental health expertise that is available and how to enhance awareness of nonhealth professionals of basic mental health risks, problems and disorders.
Young offenders have disproportionate mental healthcare needs in comparison with the general child and adolescent population. Identification of the needs of young offenders is recognized as being inadequate and work is being initiated in North America and Europe to develop systematic approaches to improving health screening and assessment. Options are limited for providing treatment for young people when screening shows that it is needed and, thus, require development.[