Defence & Security | Healthcare | Social Policy

The physical and mental health of young people in youth detention: A global scoping review

30 Jul 2019, by Amy Sarcevic

A systematic review of the health of young people in youth detention is expected to reveal, for the first time, a detailed and accurate picture of their physical and mental health, in a bid to entice further government intervention and investment.

The research – undertaken by Dr. Rohan Borschmann and peers at the University of Melbourne and due for publication in The Lancet Public Health journal later this year – is seeking to establish a correlation between various mental and physical risk factors and exposure to the youth justice system.

Ahead of Informa’s Correctional Services Healthcare Summit, Dr. Borschmann said, “We have known for a long time that young people in detention are often from disadvantaged backgrounds, have suffered abuse, neglect or trauma, and tend to have underlying mental or physical health conditions.

“We are now seeking to confirm what we have suspected all along – a correlation between poor health and contact with the justice system – in a way which is compelling to policymakers and government procurers”.

In a recent post, Informa reported the findings of an audit by the Victorian Auditor General’s office, which uncovered a number of deficits in the current youth detention system. Largely as a result of under-funding and under-staffing, the audit found that criminogenic needs were not being met on a number of fronts, undermining efforts to rehabilitate those incarcerated.

In a similar vein, Dr. Borschmann notes a lack of transitional care for young people following release from detention. “It’s not uncommon for young people to be released back into society with few, if any, transitional healthcare arrangements. Often very little is offered to assist with positive reintegration”, he said.

“By demonstrating this correlation and providing a robust evidence-base, we hope that more work will be done to positively intervene in the lives of these disadvantaged young people, and better cater to their complex needs in detention and beyond”.

Presenting at the Correctional Services Healthcare Summit 10-11 September 2019, Dr. Borschmann will discuss the findings of his research and provide recommendations on how the sector should respond.

Learn more and register here.

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