According to recent figures there were 11,500 young people aged 15 to 20 in jail in England and Wales in 2010, of those 90 per cent had a diagnosable mental health disorder, and many had substance abuse problems as well as personality disorders (Lyon et al 2010). 60 per cent had anxiety and depressive illness with 10 per cent suffering from a severe psychotic mental illness such as schizophrenia. 20 per cent of these young men and 40 per cent of young women will have attempted suicide prior to their imprisonment (Farrant 2001). Young offenders are among the most socially excluded groups in society and the evidence suggests that imprisonment simply makes matters worse not better. Within two years of release, 75 per cent will have been reconvicted and 47 per cent will be back in jail (Social Exclusion Unit 2002). If some of these young people become homeless or end up in insecure accommodation, they are between eight and 11 times more likely to develop mental health problems (Stephens 2002). Low take up of preventive mental health services among socially excluded families means that minor problems can develop into major problems. Over 90 per cent of recidivist delinquents had a conduct disorder as children
The number of applications for asylum from unaccompanied under 18s almost trebled between 1997 and 2011 from 1,105 to 3,469. DOH figures indicate that there were 6,750 unaccompanied asylum- seeking children supported by local authorities in 2001. Further evidence shows that many of these young people were accommodated and receiving a worse service than other children in need (Audit Commission 2000). Very little research has been done to ascertain the mental health needs of this group of children. However there is some evidence of the symptoms of post traumatic stress syndrome being present before they then experience the racist xenophobic abuse of individuals and institutions incapable of demonstrating humanitarian concern for their plight. This combination can shatter the most psychologically robust personality. It has been estimated that serious mental health disorders may be present in 40-50 per cent of young refugees (Hodes 1998).