The major mental health problems suffered by young adults from vulnerable backgrounds, particularly those in custody, have been highlighted by a wide-ranging study of data from Young People in Focus.
The Young adults today study was launched to mark a change of name for the charity formerly known as the Trust for the Study of Adolescence.
High suicide rates for young adult offenders
It found young adults in custody were eight to 10 times more likely than young adults in the general population to commit suicide. Young adult offenders were also three times more likely than the general population to have a mental health problem.
And for all of those aged 15-24, suicide was the second most common cause of death after road traffic accidents.
The report, which drew on a wide range of data including official government statistics, also estimated that more than a third of girls will self harm at some point in their lives.
Disproportionate rates of unemployment and health problems
Kevin Lowe, co-director of Young People in Focus, said young adults made up a “disproportionate number of those behind bars, those unemployed and those suffering from mental and physical health problems”.
The Young Adults Today report will contribute to the work of the Transition to Adulthood Alliance, which was set up by the Barrow Cadbury Trust and aims to improve the way young people are treated in the criminal justice system.
Lowe said Young People in Focus would continue the activities it carried out under its former name, particularly developing practical resources for professionals.
In October, it will pilot an accredited training programme for people working with young people in supported housing, with a view to rolling it out from February 2010.