Mental Health Symptoms and Parenting Stress of Parents of Court-Involved Youth


Youth involved in the juvenile justice system are at risk for emotional and behavioral problems. However, research with court-involved adolescents has neglected to examine the mental health of their parents, who may also have significant personal and parenting stress. This sample consisted of 144 parent–adolescent dyads. Adolescents (aged 11–17 years) identified by court officials were referred to the study to receive mental health treatment. Parents and adolescents completed surveys about their mental health diagnoses, treatment, and family relationships. Using the clinical cut-off for the global severity index of the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised, bivariate and multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to examine group differences between parents with and without significant mental health symptoms. Results indicated that 35% of parents endorsed clinically significant mental health symptoms. Parents with clinically significant symptoms, compared to those without, reported significantly greater parenting stress (p< .05), and were more likely to have received prior mental health treatment (54 vs. 25%; p < .05) and a psychiatric diagnosis (52 vs. 19%; p < .05). Our findings revealed that more than one in three parents of court-involved adolescents are currently experiencing significant mental health symptoms. Improved mental health screening and intervention that incorporates the unique needs of families is recommended, including the possible use of family-based approaches as well as individualized treatment for the parents of court-involved youth.

Other Recent Publications