Re-offending reduced by new mental health therapy


Friday 9th July, 2010

A pioneering new mental health therapy is reducing the risk of re-offending among troubled and aggressive young people.

The approach known as ‘Multisystemic Therapy’ has been used in a UK evaluation pilot and researchers at University College London have discovered in families with multiple problems, there has been a reduction in the risk of re-offending, particularly among boys.

Multisystemic Therapy has been approved by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and trialled across ten sites in England after successful trials in the US.

The approach involves improving parenting capacity, increasing young people’s engagement with education and training, reducing offending behaviour, and tackling underlying mental and physical health problems such as substance misuse.

One in 10 children aged 5-16 years has a mental health disorder and conduct disorder is the most common disorder in boys (7%). Rates of disorders increase from childhood to adolescence and 50% of young people with conduct disorder may develop anti-social personality disorder.

The UK trials involved children and young people aged 11-17 years-old and their families in which the child was at risk of being placed in care or custody due to aggressive, delinquent and anti-social behaviour or attitudes.

The research is supported jointly by the Department for Education, the Youth Justice Board and Department of Health

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said:

“We must do all we can to keep young people out of the criminal justice system – these findings show encouraging results about how we might do that.

“The research shows the key role mental health staff and the voluntary sector can play in work with young people and their families.”

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton said:

“We must make sure that young people with complex needs are getting the help they need to get their lives back on track. Today’s conference is an excellent opportunity for local authorities to learn from each other and build effective links, so they can develop and sustain programmes such as MST.”

Graham Robb, Board Member of the Youth Justice Board said:

“The findings of this evaluation are very encouraging. MST can turn around the lives of children and families while also making overall savings to the public purse . The YJB has a strong track record for exploring the potential of pioneering evidence based programmes, and as such we are really keen to support MST.”

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