Psychology, Department of


Mental Health and Needs Assessment in Juvenile Justice: The Use of the YLS/CMI and MAYSI-2 with a Diversion Sample

Michelle Giresi, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Document Type Article

A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychology, Under the Supervision of Professor Mario J. Scalora. Lincoln, Nebraska: June 2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Michelle Giresi


Research has suggested high prevalence rates for mental disorders in youths involved in juvenile justice. Given the limitations related reliance on mental disorders to determine mental health needs, and increasing demands for evidence based assessment at different points in juvenile justice processing, the current study assessed a range of thoughts, feelings, or behaviors as measured by the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument, Version 2 (MAYSI-2). Other needs areas were assessed using the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI). The study used a juvenile diversion sample, a sample type that has received little empirical attention in YLS/CMI and MAYSI-2 literature. The total sample consisted of archival data from 4,768 youths involved in a diversion program between 2004 and 2010. There were 1,971 (42.5%) girls and 2,669 (57.5%), boys in the sample with an average age of 15. The sample was primarily non-Hispanic white (n=3,709, 77.8%), black/African American (n=572, 12%), or Latino/Hispanic (n=378, 7.9%). Higher scores on the YLS/CMI and MAYSI-2 scales were positively correlated with number of services received, while higher scores on the YLS/CMI and certain MAYSI-2 scales were positively correlated and length of program involvement. The YLS/CMI was not significantly associated with recidivism, likely due to the nature of the recidivism variable. Girls scored higher on the MAYSI-2 scales Angry-Irritable, Depressed-Anxious, Somatic Complaints, and Suicide Ideation. Non-Hispanic white youths scored higher on the MAYSI-2 Alcohol/Drug Use and Somatic Complaints scales. Younger youths scored higher on the MAYSI-2 Angry-Irritable, Depressed-Anxious, and Thought Disturbance (boys only) and older youths scored higher on the Alcohol/Drug Use scale. Youths with high scores on the MAYSI-2 had more past involvement with mental health services. Implications for these results will be discussed including the utility of using the two measures in a low needs sample, the ability of the YLS/CMI to identify treatment/service targets, the use of the YLS/CMI for determining recidivism, and the impact of demographic variables on MAYSI-2 scores.

Adviser: Mario J. Scalora