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Psychiatric Disorders in Hispanic Youth after Detention: A Prospective Longitudinal Study of Ethnic Differences

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outh in detention are at an increased risk for psychiatric disorders compared with youth in the general population. Hispanic youth have particularly pressing mental health needs in detention and as they age. Studies examining psychiatric disorders among Hispanic youth in detention do not differentiate by ethnicity; rather they consider Hispanics as a homogenous group. To our knowledge, no prospective longitudinal study has examined ethnic differences in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among Hispanic youth in detention and as they age into adulthood. The current study addresses these omissions in the literature. Using a sample of Mexican and Puerto Rican juvenile detainees from Cook County, Chicago, the current study examines ethnic differences in: 1) the prevalence of psychiatric disorders at detention; 2) the prevalence of psychiatric disorders during the 16 years after detention; and 3) the persistence of psychiatric disorders during the 16 years after detention. We will also examine ethnic differences in sociodemographic characteristics between Mexican and Puerto Rican youth. There were several ethnic differences in sociodemographic characteristics and the prevalence of psychiatric disorders at baseline. As youth aged, however, ethnic differences in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders were less substantial. Our findings suggest the need for more appropriate assessment of Hispanic youth involved in the juvenile justice system—specifically detention—in order to provide the most culturally appropriate services as youth return to their communities. Future research should examine ethnic differences in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among Hispanic youth in the general population, ethnic differences in culturally adapted mental health treatments for Hispanic youth, and ethnic differences in psychosocial functioning after youth leave detention and as they age.

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  • 03/07/2019
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