Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)
Type of Culminating Activity
Master of Health Science
Community and Environmental Health
Theodore W. McDonald, Ph.D.
Edward Baker, Ph.D.
Sandina Begic, Ph.D.
The Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument (MAYSI-2) is an effective tool to quickly identify individuals entering the juvenile justice system that may be most in need of mental and behavioral health services. The MAYSI-2 measures potential disorder on seven subscales—Alcohol/Drug Use, Angry-Irritable, Depressed-Anxious, Somatic Complaints, Suicidal Ideation, Thought Disturbance, and Traumatic Experience. Although Juvenile Detention Centers in Idaho have been collecting MAYSI-2 data for approximately eight years, Idaho’s data has yet to be added to the body of literature documenting MAYSI-2 results. The current study describes the prevalence of mental health problems as measured by the MAYSI-2, utilizing data gathered between fiscal years 2013-2015 among detained juveniles in Idaho. Data collection from fiscal years 2013-2015 began in June 2012 and concluded in July 2015. The sample included 4,032 cases from 13 juvenile detention centers across Idaho. Overall, 52% of boys and 70% of girls scored in the clinically significant range on at least one MAYSI-2 subscale. Without stratifying by gender, Angry/Irritable (30%), Traumatic Experiences (28%), and Somatic Complaints (24%) were the top three most frequently indicated subscales. Excluding Thought Disturbances (normed for boys only), Alcohol/Drug use (14%) was the least frequently indicated subscale. When stratified by year and gender, there was marked consistency. Overall, girls (70%) were significantly more likely to screen positive on any subscale than boys (52%), χ2 (1, N = 3,925) = 108.14, p < .001. Notably, a greater percentage of girls scored in the clinically significant range on every subscale (excluding Thought Disturbances, which was normed for boys only). Across years, there was a significantly greater number of youth who scored in the range of clinical concern in 2015 (61%) when compared to 2013 (55%) and 2014 (55%), χ2 (2, N = 4,032) = 10.71, p < .01. These data highlight areas of concern that could be addressed by programs that focus “upstream” (i.e., before youth become involved in the juvenile justice system) and “downstream” by guiding policymakers to appropriately direct funding. Terry Reilly Health Services is one Idaho entity taking an upstream approach by operating an in-school counselor program. School counselors are in a position to address issues such as trauma—a likely early link in the causal chain of mental and behavioral health problems. Research over the past few decades has demonstrated the elements of effective treatment including cognitive behavioral therapy, strength-based approaches, and emphasis on social contexts to build strong relationships among facility staff and peers. The data and analysis presented here adds to the pool of knowledge from which policymakers are able to draw in order to make informed decisions regarding this important topic.
Donaldson, Lucas, "The Prevalence of Mental Health Problems Among Detained Juveniles in Idaho" (2018). Boise State University Theses and Dissertations. 1377.