Objective — The authors measured use of mental health services among young people before and during incarceration.
Methods — Administrative data were used to describe mental health services received by 13,919 youths and young adults (ages 12-24) while incarcerated in Ontario, Canada, correctional centers (physician visits, April 1, 2010-March 31, 2012) and, for a subset of the population, during the five years prior to incarceration.
Results — Forty-two percent had a mental health-related visit during incarceration. Thirty-five percent had no mental health contact for five years before the beginning of the correctional episode. Forty percent of individuals with schizophrenia had a psychiatric hospitalization in the year before entering custody.
Conclusions — For one-third of young people with a mental health visit while incarcerated, the visit was the first mental health contact in at least five years. Yet high use of psychiatric services before entering custody among individuals with schizophrenia may indicate gaps in continuity of mental health care.
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Mental health services