Links Between Gang Membership and Mental Health

As per Coid et al., 2013), gangs and violence go hand-in-hand. In most cases, young people involved in gang membership poses a double threat: this means that they can be victims of crime and violence or can be violent against other people to prove their loyalty to the gang members (Klein & Maxson, 2010). Additionally, Coid et al., (2013) state that, regardless of being involved in a gang, violence historically is linked to more risks of mental disorders. As per the study, the most common mental disorders which had more chances to affect gang members include psychosis, antisocial personality disorder, anxiety as well as alcohol and drugs dependency. This study supports other studies by Figley (2013) and Stapinski, et al., (2014). Studies by criminologists in London suggests that living with abuse, violence, and drug use can result in increased anxiety levels, depression as well as paranoia (Stapinski, et al., 2014). Unfortunately, the study fails to estimate whether the gang members had a psychiatric diagnosis before joining a gang, or whether their mental issues developed after joining the gang. Once a young person becomes a gang member, he is exposed to neglect, violence as well as victimization which results in trauma. Researchers have identified a two-way relationship between being a gang member and trauma (Coid et al., 2013). According to the study, Trauma increases chances of joining a criminal gang while membership to a gang increases the risk of trauma exposure.


Schauer & Elbert (2010), suggest that, like child soldiers in South Sudan, young people engaged to gangs are forced into perpetrating violence against other people via initiations as well as ongoing gang activity. Some initiation activities include sexual assault or being the perpetrator of violence victim. (Coid et al., 2013) states that, men who are violent men as well as members of a gang have a higher prevalence of physiological illness and usually uses psychiatric services more often compared to men who are not violent. violent victimization, Violent ruminative thinking as well as fear for severe victimization resulted in the increased anxiety and psychosis conditions to gang members. Additionally, drugs misuse, suicide as well as antisocial personality disorder can be described by other elements other than a crisis. Coid et al., (2013), also states that gang members indicate inordinately increased psychiatric morbidity levels, therefore, putting a heavy burden on health facilities. The study also argues that gang members should be often assessed in person by presenting themselves to health care facilities especially in areas with increased violence. Health care providers usually have a vital role in enhancing desistence from activities of a gang.

Risk Factors Linked to Deterioration in Mental Health

Deterioration of mental health is the process in which our mental health becomes progressively worse over time. violence, small thefts, and assaults are risk elements liked to adolescence mental disorders. The violence influence and cause fear among victims. These impacts go past mental health concern and may turn into physical issues especially during adulthood (Falvo & Holland, 2017). As per (De-Sá et al., 2011), experiencing violence both the victim and the witness suffered mental health issues, these issues developed to harmful behaviors concerning social interaction. Ernst et al., (2006) confirms the link between the use of psychoactive substances and mental health issues. The study argues that mental disorders dictate drug use and abuse. National cohort reviews link psychopathologies experienced during adolescent to substance use (alcohol). Shain (2016), states that almost 62 000 teenagers lost their lives in 2016 due to self-harm. Moreover, Suicide is believed to be the third leading adolescents to cause death. Additionally, mostly, Suicide attempts are linked to hopelessness feelings and depression. As per the study, the major Risk element for suicide is concerned with alcohol use, which has a strong link to depression and mental health issues, abuse in childhood, stigma, etc. Falvo & Holland (2017), states that mental health problems impact the functional as well as the working capacity in numerous ways such as the Deterioration of mental health. Moreover, the precursor element which resulted in teenager’s mental health problems included psychosis, anxiety as well as eating disorders (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2014). Based on the onset age of mental health problems, persons' working ability usually reduce. Nevertheless, Mental problems have a high risk of disability, together with muscular-skeletal disorders. For instance, adverse mental health disorders have resulted in mental incapacity and insanity (Rogers & Pilgrim, 2014). This Disability not only affects individuals but also the entire community. Kessler et al. (1995) discovered that people affected by psychological issues had less chance to complete high school studies and join college compared to people without mental disorders. Besides, psychological illness affects the productivity of an individual because of missed work among other reasons. Lastly, teenagers are mostly affected by emotional disorders, therefore, affecting school attendance as well as schoolwork. Worse enough, depression causes an individual to commit suicide

Intervention/Support to Be Prioritized for This Cohort

Purgato et al., (2016), states that psychosocial support interventions are becoming a standard part of humanitarian programs. Addressing mental disorders in affected populations is commonly aimed at targeting modifiable causal factors (Allen et al., 2014). Motivational interventions have been found to be effective with or without in-person intervention. Some studies have shown beneficial effects of involving peers and/or parents (Falvo &Holland, 2017). The study also suggests that, educational/awareness building interventions: the provision of information about the risks of drinking is more effective in reducing alcohol consumption. Parental involvement is also important in encouraging non-drinking social behavior. Shain (2016) recommend that, interventions across a range of sectors, not just the health sector in a way that prevents further exposure to human rights violations and harm, and strengthening the capacity of families and communities to support their members like, continued cultural, religious, and spiritual practices; strengthening social supports for vulnerable populations can be important intervention measure. Evidence from home visiting interventions while addressing factors like smoking, poor early child-parent interactions have shown to improve mental health (Figley, 2013).

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Klein, M.W. and Maxson, C.L., 2010. Street gang patterns and policies. Oxford University Press.

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