University Of Tasmania
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Risk and protective factors for psychopathology in adolescence

posted on 2023-05-26, 22:02 authored by Cunningham, Elysia Jeanette Rose
Mental health research suggests incarcerated adolescents display similar rates of behavioural and emotional disorders as youth in psychiatric care. Several factors appear to be related to psychological problems during adolescence, including: intellectual disability; unhealthy family environments; childhood abuse (sexual, physical and emotional abuse, and neglect); substance abuse; and poverty. In addition factors such as parental mental illness, lack of perceived support, divorce, and single-parent families have been linked to mental illness in adolescence. However, recent research indicates that a number of factors, such as personality traits, social support, and emotional intelligence, may act as mediators or protective factors against developing mental illness in adolescence. The current study examined the rate of different forms of psychological disturbance in a group of adolescents involved in the youth justice system compared to a general high school sample (N = 145). Further, the study attempted to identify the combination of emotional, intellectual, and psychosocial risk and protective factors that best predict mental health status within these groups of adolescents. The rate of psychological disturbances between the groups was examined using MANOVA and MANCOVA, with the risk and protective factors for mental illness being examined with logistic regression techniques. The MANCOVA results identified significant differences between the youth justice and high school groups across five mental illness subscales: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Separation Anxiety, Substance Abuse, and Adjustment Disorder. The youth justice group was found to display significantly higher scores on these five subscales. Binary logistic regression analyses identified a pattern of intellectual, emotional and psychosocial factors that contribute to the prediction of clinically significant mental health problems for both groups of adolescents. Some of the key factors identified include neuroticism, criminal conviction history, psychoticism, stress management skills, higher general mood, and intrapersonal skills. While the results for the differences between the groups on the psychopathology subscales are consistent with previous research, the number of predictive factors that contributed to risk for mental illness were fewer than previously identified. The results of the present study will enable the development of screening tools to identify those adolescents in youth detention that are at highest risk of emerging psychological disorders. Use of a screening tool has the potential to significantly improve mental health outcomes due to such an instrument being able to indicate a need for early intervention.


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Copyright 2010 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references

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