BACKGROUND: Among young offenders, mental health problems have been linked both to more serious delinquent acts and to high recidivism rates, but there has been little study of this in Greece. AIMS: The aims of this study were to describe demographic and family characteristics of young incarcerated male offenders, to determine the prevalence of mental disorders among them and to compare native Greeks with immigrants on these variables. METHODS: Ninety-three young males, randomly selected from the three main juvenile detention facilities in Greece, completed the Greek version of the Youth Self Report (YSR); the institutions' social workers completed a questionnaire designed for the study on the youths' demographics and offending. RESULTS: Results revealed over-representation of immigrants, high levels of psychosocial adversity (large family size, low parental educational level, poverty and family offending history) and high prevalence rates not only of externalizing disorders, such as conduct disorder, but also internalizing disorders, including anxiety, depression and somatizing problems. CONCLUSIONS AND PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Young males in Greek correctional institutions need support at many levels, and especially for mental health problems. This will have implications for staff training and juvenile justice system reform.
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