Methods: A Latent Profile Analysis (LPA) was conducted using secondary data from the Behavioral Health and Juvenile Justice (BHJJ) diversion program. A total of 1,341 adolescents (ages 12-17) who were enrolled in BHJJ were included in this study. Data were collected at Intake, from three different data sources (youth, parent, and service worker), and at Successful Completion of Treatment. Mental health issues were measured using the worker report of the Ohio Scales Problem Severity Scale.
Results: This study found that three (normative, externalizing, and high symptomatology) distinct profiles of mental health symptomatology existed among the study sample. The odds of belonging to the high symptomatology profile was more than two times (OR= 2.60; p <.001) higher for juvenile justice-involved males when compared to juvenile justice-involved females. In addition, the odds of belonging to the high symptomatology profile decreased (OR= 0.51; p <.001) for juvenile justice-involve youth who reported no poly-location ETV.
Conclusion and Implications: This study’s findings illustrated that distinct profiles of mental health symptomatology exist among juvenile-justice involved youth. Utilizing the Ohio Scales Problem Severity scale in a social work or community-based treatment setting and providing staff with the proper training to assess and identify youth who belong to an externalizing or high symptomatology profile, could lead to youth being directed to the appropriate form of treatment. This may also be considered a good fiscal practice that may lead to positive effects on mental health outcomes and decreased recidivism rates. Future research should also focus on conducting longitudinal studies and examining risk and supportive factors that may contribute to or predict changes in mental health symptomatology. For example, focusing on juvenile justice-involved females when conducting this research seems especially interesting, since the majority of past studies, including this dissertation, contain samples that are either dominated by males or completely lack a female presence.