Psychiatric disorders highly prevalent among juvenile jail detainees

December 11, 2002

Mental health professionals have speculated for years that many adolescents with serious psychiatric disorders are arrested instead of treated. Yet, there have been few studies.

Now, a Northwestern University study has found that the majority of boys and girls currently detained in a juvenile facility in the United States have one or more psychiatric disorders.

This study, led by Linda A. Teplin, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Psycholegal Studies Program at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, appears in the December issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

"The large number of detained youth with psychiatric disorders places a great burden on detention facilities. Detention centers were never intended to be mental health centers," Teplin said.

The study, funded by a unique consortium of federal agencies and private foundations, is the first comprehensive investigation of psychiatric disorders and outcomes among delinquent youth.

More than 106,000 teens are in custody on an average day in U.S. juvenile facilities, and, of these, over 60 percent are racial or ethnic minorities and from low-income families.

Thus, psychiatric disorders in detained adolescents are a significant health disparities issue, Teplin said.

Teplin and colleagues assessed psychiatric disorders in 1,829 African American, non-Hispanic white and Hispanic teens who were 10 to 18 years old and randomly selected at admission to the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. About 8,500 juveniles enter the facility each year for pre-trial detention and brief sentences. The Cook County facility was selected because it is typical of other urban detention centers nationwide.

Results of the study showed that, excluding conduct disorder, which is common among jailed youth, nearly two thirds of the boys and about three fourths of the girls had one or more psychiatric disorders.

About half of the detained teens had substance abuse or dependence. Overall, disorders were more prevalent among older youth and among girls.

"We are especially concerned about the high rates of depressive disorders among detained adolescents - over 17 percent of boys and 26 percent of girls," Teplin noted.

Results of the group's study show that teens with psychiatric disorders pose a challenge for the juvenile justice system and, after their release, for the larger mental health system.

Moreover, as welfare reform, managed care and a shrinking public health care system limit access to services, many poor and minority youth with psychiatric disorders may "increasingly fall through the cracks into the juvenile justice system," said Teplin.
Co-authors on this study, from the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Feinberg School, were Karen Abram, assistant professor, Gary McClelland, assistant professor, and Mina Dulcan, professor. Amy Mericle, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, also was a co-author.

This study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Justice, The William T. Grant Foundation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a consortium of other agencies.

Northwestern University

Related Psychiatric Disorders Articles from Brightsurf:

Sexual minorities, especially women, who misuse substances more likely to have psychiatric disorders
More than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals who misuse alcohol or tobacco also have a co-occurring psychiatric disorder, compared to one-third of heterosexuals, a new University of Michigan study finds.

Internet gaming youth not more prone to psychiatric disorders
Children who show addiction-like gaming signs are not any more susceptible to mental health problems than their non-gaming peers.

People with coronavirus symptoms more likely to have psychiatric disorders and loneliness
People who have or had COVID-19 symptoms are more likely to develop general psychiatric disorders and are lonelier, with women and young people more at risk, says a just-published study co-authored at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Brain structural elements in psychiatric disorders
While researchers have previously identified brain structural signatures associated with individual neurological diseases using techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a team of scientists based in Germany, in a new study, has compared data from multiple studies to find brain structural abnormalities shared between four different neuropsychiatric conditions.

Psychiatric disorders after first birth reduce likelihood of subsequent children
Women who suffer from psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, mania and schizophrenia following the live birth of their first child are less likely to go on to have more children, according to the first study to investigate this in a large nationwide population.

International study completes the largest genetic map of psychiatric disorders so far
An international study published in the journal Cell, has described 109 genetic variants associated with eight psychiatric disorders: autism, ADHD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette Syndrome, in a total of about 230,000 patients worldwide.

Are there shared genetic factors between weight and major psychiatric disorders?
Data from 1.3 million people were used to investigate genetic overlap between body mass index and major psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression.

How are psychiatric disorders linked to infections during pregnancy?
Severe infections during pregnancy have been connected to a range of psychiatric disorders by different studies in humans and animals.

Repeated febrile convulsions linked to epilepsy and psychiatric disorders
The risk of febrile convulsions increases with the child's fever, and children who suffer from repeated febrile convulsions during their first year of life have an increased risk of developing epilepsy and psychiatric disorders later in life.

Serum neurofilament is a discriminative biomarker between frontotemporal dementia and psychiatric disorders
Early symptoms of frontotemporal dementia are often confused with symptoms occurring in psychiatric disorders.

Read More: Psychiatric Disorders News and Psychiatric Disorders Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to