Nov 16, 2020 in Law

Mental Health Disorders

Juvenile Mental Health

The focus of the chosen sources of information is the link between juvenile detention rates and the youths mental health problems. It is assumed that physical violence and criminal behavior of adolescents may be caused by their mental health problems. While some of the young detainees develop mental health illness because of incarceration, the majority of them already have mental disorders before they are detained. Two following articles discuss some but not all the important aspects of this topic.


The popular article source assumes that there is close relationship between poor mental health and increasing juvenile detention rates. As mentioned in the article, Childrens Commissioner who inspected Western Australias juvenile detention system found that detainees do not get proper level of psychiatric and psychological care. This is outrageous taking into account the fact that almost 87 per cent of them have a psychological disorder (Taylor, 2012). The author of this article suggests that the number of young offenders can tangibly decrease if more attention is paid to rehabilitation, training and education programs as well as different support programs. Such programs and services will help the released offenders deal with their mental health problems.

One of the important aspects that the popular article under consideration does not cover is the reason why young offenders tend to have more mental illnesses than the rest of population. It could be interesting to find out what exactly makes children and teenagers commit crimes. With regards to this, another important aspect that could have been covered is the mental illnesses themselves. The author of the article does not mention any specific mental health problems, whereas the classification of mental disorders is quite comprehensive. Mentioning that some disorders cause aggression or antisocial behavior or at least that some involve alcohol and drug abuse could have facilitated understanding of the problems discussed in the article.

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The empirical article reveals several important facts about the topic in question. According to this article, high rate of mental disorders among the juvenile detainees can be explained by the fact that the majority of them are represented by poor and minority youth who does not have access to the regular mental health system (Cohen & Pfeifer, 2011). In this way, juvenile justice authorities become mental health services providers for these young people. Another fact that the researchers have discovered about this topic is that detention facilities cannot refuse to accept the offenders even though many of them should be kept in community settings rather than in detention facilities. This entails high costs which could otherwise be spent on intervention and detention programs.

This empirical article has more than one research question. The first research question is, What is the prevalence of mental health problems among the detainees? The researchers have discovered that 50 per cent of young detainees have mental disorders, which is congruent with previous prevalence research (Cohen & Pfeifer, 2011, p. 26). The second research question posed in this research is, How the detainees are diagnosed with mental health problems and how are their diagnoses managed in terms of costs? The researchers learn about the ways mental health screening is conducted in different counties as well as about mental health services providers and fiscal barriers that the treatment of mental disorders involves.

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The variables included into the research under analysis are county, average monthly detention occurrence, mental health services and their ranges of rate, and evidence-based practices. In general, the researchers found that 50 per cent of the detainees have mental health problems and that some of them are not treated properly because of the absence of criteria as for the necessity of treating the disease. In addition, each county has reported about at least one extreme case when a young detainee had a serious mental health illness (Cohen & Pfeifer, 2011). In addition, from 18 counties discussed in the study, 100% provide mental health screening to the detainees but not all use formal screening instruments for this. Moreover, 50 per cent of the counties practice group and family therapy while all but two of the counties provide crisis intervention and individual psychotherapy (Cohen & Pfeifer, 2011). Finally, each county has at least some fiscal barriers that do not allow it cooperating with mental health agencies. The most common barrier in all the counties is Medi-Cal reimbursement that neither pre-disposition nor post-disposition youth in detention turned out to be eligible for.

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The empirical article does not cover several important aspects of this topic. Firstly, it does not discuss prevalence of poor and minority youth among the detainees. Secondly, the researchers do not explain the difference between mental health disorders and conduct disorders, as well as they never mention which disorders are prevalent among the youth in detention. Finally, it is never mentioned what the government has to undertake in order to help settle the discussed problem.

The main difference between these popular and empirical articles is that the latter is a study while the former simply informs the reader about the issue. Another key difference is that the empirical article relies on the findings of other researchers while the popular one does not cite any credible sources. Lastly, the empirical article is structured as a study, and the popular article has a structure of a news report. The popular articles contribution to knowledge is that it presents shocking numeric data urging the reader to research the topic and participate in solving the problem, whereas the empirical article informs about what has been done and clarifies the most important aspects of the problem and find solutions to it.


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