Mental Health, Sexual Health and Reproductive Health Survey (MeH-JOSH) – Queensland and Western Australia
Sophie Davison, North Metro Area Mental Health Service
Jocelyn Jones, National Drug Research Institute
Alun Richards, Queensland Health
Ed Heffernan, Queensland Forensic Mental Health Services
Scott Harden, Queensland Forensic Mental Health Services
Paul Letters, Queensland Forensic Mental Health Services
Tony Butler, Kirby Institute
Lorraine Yap, Kirby Institute
The aim of this survey is to develop an understanding of the mental health, sexual health and reproductive health of adolescents in contact with the criminal justice system in Queensland and Western Australia. Children and young people in contact with the criminal justice system are some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society. They are also a neglected population in terms of research, as many do not have a fixed address, do not go to school, are hard to access and so are typically excluded from surveys. Specific surveys of this population are therefore important and necessary.
Surveys conducted in New South Wales of young people in custody and young people serving community orders have shown these groups to have multiple health problems including mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse. Poor health and risk taking behaviours can lead to an increased risk of developing chronic health problems if they are not addressed. Many young people in custody report parental incarceration, drug and alcohol dependence and low socio-economic status. Childhood abuse and neglect limits psychosocial development and contributes to high rates of mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, early school leaving and antisocial behaviour. These all result in social exclusion. The NSW survey concluded that many of the social determinants and health problems were worse for Aboriginal young people in custody. Identification of the health needs of this population represents an important first step in improving the health outcomes for this marginalised group.
The survey aims to:
- Determine the prevalence of mental disorder among young people (14-17 year olds) in contact with the criminal justice system in Queensland and Western Australia.
- Describe the sexual and reproductive health of young people (14-17 year olds) in contact with the criminal justice system in Queensland and Western Australia.
- Compare the self-reported mental, reproductive and sexual health of young people in contact with the criminal justice system with their peers in other mainstream surveys.