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Posted: September 14th, 2023

Mental health scales best for children in prison

Mental health scales best for children in prison.
Identifying the most appropriate mental health screening tools for children in the juvenile justice system can help address their needs and facilitate rehabilitation. Several tools have shown promise in recent studies.
The Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument-Second Version (MAYSI-2) is widely used in the U.S. (Grisso & Barnum, 2018). It efficiently screens for a range of problems including alcohol/drug use, angry-irritable feelings, depression/anxiety, somatic complaints, suicide ideation, and thought disturbance. Research has found it effective in identifying youth requiring further assessment or treatment (Vincent et al., 2012).
Vincent, G. M., Chapman, J., & Cook, N. E. (2012). Risk-needs assessment in juvenile justice: Predictive validity of the SAVRY, racial differences, and the contribution of needs factors. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 39(3), 42–362. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093854811435210
Grisso, T., & Barnum, R. (2018). Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument, Second Version: User’s manual and technical report. Worcester, MA: University of Massachusetts Medical School.
The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is a brief behavioral screening tool that has also been used successfully with justice-involved youth (Fonagy et al., 2018). It covers prosocial behaviors as well as externalizing and internalizing difficulties. Research found the SDQ effective at identifying youth requiring further assessment or treatment (Fonagy et al., 2018).
Fonagy, P., Butler, S., Cottrell, D., Scott, S., Pilling, S., Eisler, I., Fuggle, P., Kraam, A., Byford, S., Wason, J., Ellison, R., Simes, E., Ganguli, P., Allison, E., & Goodyer, I. M. (2018). Multisystemic therapy versus management as usual in the treatment of adolescent antisocial behaviour (START): A pragmatic, randomised controlled, superiority trial. The Lancet Psychiatry, 5(2), 119–133. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30001-4
Finally, the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC) specifically screens for trauma exposure and related symptoms, which are highly prevalent among justice-involved youth (Soulier & McBride, 2016). It has been found to effectively identify trauma-related treatment needs.
Soulier, M., & McBride, A. (2016). Mental health screening and assessment of detained youth. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 25(1), 27–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chc.2015.08.002
In summary, the MAYSI-2, SDQ, and TSCC show promise as efficient, evidence-based tools for screening the mental health needs of children in the juvenile justice system, helping address their rehabilitation needs. With appropriate screening, assessment, and treatment, outcomes can likely be improved.

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