Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine and describe levels of psychological health and well-being in a group of young people living in Dublin.
Method: A sample of 97 young people (50 males, 47 females) were assessed for psychological status, suicidal ideation, substance misuse, contact with the law, self-esteem and locus of control as well as various social indicators such as educational attainment and social connectedness. A screening version of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis Diagnosis (SCID) was used to assess psychological functioning and the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation was employed to ascertain suicidal ideation. Self-esteem was measured using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and locus of control was measured using a scale devised by Pearlin, Menaghan, Lieberman and Mullan (1981).
Results: Symptom levels were high and approximately one fifth of respondents had a probable psychiatric condition (most commonly depression or anxiety). Yet, only a small percentage was receiving treatment for psychiatric difficulties. Over half of the participants had used nonprescription drugs at some time. Alcohol consumption was high, especially amongst male respondents. Over half of those interviewed were categorised as misusing alcohol and/or drugs and participants greatly underestimated their level of alcohol use. Approximately one-quarter had had some contact with the law which was related to deficits in educational attainment and the latter variable was associated with childhood economic disadvantage.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that among a sample of 97 young Irish people, a high level of psychiatric symptomatology and excessive use of alcohol is evident. This remains largely untreated as only a small percentage of the group had sought help for psychological difficulties which suggests a need to address the issues of mental health awareness, alcohol use and the accessibility of services. The paper also underlines the association between economic disadvantage and lack of educational attainment with associated linkages to offending.