Pilot study of mental health and substance use of detained youths in Ontario, Canada
Vingilis, E., Stewart, S., Hamilton, H.A., Seeley, J., Einarson, K.M., Kolla, N.J., ... Erickson, P.G.
Detained youth display substantive mental health and substance use problems. However, Canadian information is limited. The purpose of this study was (1) to assess mental health and substance use problems of youth in residential detention/custody facilities in Ontario, Canada, at intake, using the interRAI Youth Justice in Custodial Facilities (YJCF), and (2) to explore the added value of using the YJCF in addition to the facilities’ standard intake tool. This paper presents the findings of this pilot study. Drawing on all 20 youth secure custody facilities in Ontario, Canada, two groups were created through stratified random group assignment: 10 intervention and 10 non-intervention sites. Staff recruited eligible admitted youth aged 16–19 years between November 2014 and May 2016, with 164 in intervention and 143 in non-intervention arms. Substance use and traumatic life events were reported for the majority of youth. For youth who were assessed using the YJCF, a substantial number of integrated evidence-informed care plans, or Collaborative Action Plans (CAPs) were triggered for specific areas of risk and need. The majority of intervention group youth with YJCFs had CAPs triggered for substance use, interpersonal conflict, traumatic life events, education challenges, transitions and family functioning problems, while for almost half the youth, CAPs were triggered for harm to others and suicidality/purposeful self-harm. The YJCF, compared to the standard admission tool, identified a greater percentage of youth with mental health and substance use problems. Implications for providing expanded assessment for youth are discussed.