City Research Online

Young offenders with mental health problems in transition

Abbott, S. (2014). Young offenders with mental health problems in transition. Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, 9(4), pp. 232-243. doi: 10.1108/jmhtep-02-2014-0004


Purpose: Disproportionately high numbers of young people in the British criminal justice system also have mental health problems. Relevant services often struggle to meet such complex needs, particularly as children become adults. The purpose of this paper is to discover the qualities of services valued by such young offenders.

Design/methodology/approach: Semi-structured interviews with 15 young offenders with mental health problems.

Findings: The young people valued continuity and sufficient time to develop trust in staff. From staff who showed concern and respect, and whose approach was informal, young people could accept help, advice and, when necessary, confrontation. They gained insight into themselves and how to modify their behaviour; knowledge about opportunities for work and education; and help with life skills.

Research limitations/implications: The sample was small and likely to have been skewed towards those who are readiest to engage with services. Young people's views were not compared with their histories or actual service use.

Practical implications: Other research indicates that helping relationships that demonstrate the qualities that client's value have more successful outcomes than those primarily reflecting professionals’ values. In a time of resource constraints, it seems unlikely that staff will be able to provide more contact and continuity than at present. This would be a precondition of working in accordance with the values of the young people reported here, especially when bridging the discontinuities between children's and adult services.

Originality/value: Young offenders with mental health problems are rarely given a voice, particularly their views of what helps them.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Publisher Keywords: Adolescence, Helping relationships, Transition to adulthood, Young offenders
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
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