Mental-health problems are at least three times more prevalent among young offenders than in the rest of the population. Studies have found high levels of depression, behavioural problems, hyperactivity and substance abuse among young offenders and almost a third of young offenders in the UK have a mental-health problem. The ART (Adolescent Resource and Therapy) service in Lewisham is an assertive outreach service that provides therapeutic help for young offenders and young people at risk of offending. Its clients are aged between 10 and 18 and have typically been exposed to multiple risk factors for both offending and mental ill health. A study of clients and ex-clients of the service found that the majority of them believed it had helped them to some extent. The five factors which had helped to overcome clients' initial reluctance to use the service were: (i) a manner which demonstrated respect and commitment (ii) being able to operate flexibly and offer outreach appointments (iii) clinical effectiveness (iv) making therapeutic sessions seem personally relevant and (v) explaining clearly the role of the service.
Naylor, Chris, Lincoln, John and Goddard, Nick - Young people at risk of offending: their views on a specialist mental health service in South East London Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry April 2008, 13(2), 277-286