Differential Effects of Mental Health Problems among Truant Youths
Richard Dembo PhD, Jennifer Wareham PhD, James Schmeidler PhD, Rhissa Briones-Robinson MA, Ken C. Winters PhD
The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research
Research indicates at-risk youth are more likely to experience emotional and psychological problems. Young people who are often truant from school represent a group of at-risk youth, but one for which mental health issues are understudied. This study examined heterogeneity of mental health problems among a sample of 300 truant adolescents using latent class analysis (LCA). LCA indicated the sample of truants was best represented by four latent subgroups of youth with low mental health problems; high depression, low mania; high mania, low depression; and high depression and mania. These subgroups were examined in relation to sociodemographic and psychosocial measures at baseline and after truancy offenses. Results indicated general and unique differences in these covariates across the four latent classes. Service and practice implications of better understanding mental health issues of truant youth are discussed.