A new report, Just Health: An Enquiry into the Emotional Health and Wellbeing of Young People in the Youth Justice System, was recently published by Peer Power.
The report makes a number of recommendations to improve the emotional support and wellbeing that young people receive in the youth justice system.
Responding to the report, Lord McNally, chair of the Youth Justice Board, acknowledged that access to mental healthcare and emotional wellbeing services is poor for children in the youth justice system. He said how the report demonstrates why it is important to seek the views of those whose needs the youth justice system was established to meet: namely children who offend.
Peer Power was commissioned by the National Health Service (NHS) London to facilitate consultation and engagement with children and young people to see how NHS London could improve the way that they work with young people who find themselves in the system. As part of the consultation, a film was produced with Stretch Charity about emotional health and wellbeing that explored the views and experiences of young people with lived experience of youth justice and health agencies.
The report found that liaison and diversion services for young people could be improved – it wasn’t clear from those in contact with the system whether they received the proper screening and assessment process. Disconcertingly, 71 per cent of participants said that they either did not have anyone come to them to talk about needing or wanting support.
It is crucial to gain the views of young people, in a collaborative partnership with NHS London, about emotional support and wellbeing services offered while they are in contact with the youth justice system.
The report’s findings demonstrate the need to listen and act upon the views of children and young people to ensure that services meet their needs effectively and efficiently.
You can read the report and its recommendations here.
Sean Creaney is a Lecturer in Psychosocial Analysis of Offending Behaviour in the Faculty of Health & Social Care at Edge Hill University. He is an advisor at the social justice charity Peer Power, a Trustee at the National Association for Youth Justice, and a PhD candidate at Liverpool John Moores University. He also writes The Youth Justice Blog in Children and Young People Now.