A comparison of service use among youth involved with juvenile justice and mental health.


This article examines the risk of internalising and externalising disorders and related service use histories of two groups of youth: one group sampled from justice services, and a second sampled from mental health services. Self-report data from 152 multiple service using youth are included in the present analysis. Data shows that both groups of youth have similar levels of risk for mental health problems and equal levels of engagement in delinquent behaviour. There are however disparities in levels of engagement across service providers: youth engaged predominantly with justice services report much lower levels of engagement with mental health services. Given equal levels of engagement in delinquent behaviour combined with significantly higher levels of engagement with police by youth engaged with justice services, findings suggest that earlier mental health intervention may divert youth from the legal system.