Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Introduction: The number of children and adolescents admitted in Dar es Salaam juvenile centers due to misbehavior and criminal offences has risen from 20 to 30 per month. Increasing aberrant behaviors in children have been linked to mental disorders. Assessment of presence mental health disorders as the main cause of these behaviors would be important to restore mental health of children and assist the system to impose a fair trial.

Objective: This study aimed to determine the presence of mental disorders and associated factors among children and adolescents within Dar es Salaam juvenile systems and explore factors that may affect their mental health while in juvenile home. Methods: The mixed research method was used to estimate prevalence of mental disorders by a cross-sectional study and a qualitative method was applied to evaluate mental disorders according to DSM IV TR criteria.

Results: The overall prevalence of mental dysfunction by mental status evaluation was 3%: 95% (CI; 25.3 - 43.2; n =37 out of 108). The younger age group (13 - 15) years presented with a prevalence of 30%: 95% (CI; 14.7 - 44.5) while the older adolescents (16 - 17 years) had a prevalence of 55%: 95% (CI; 43.3 - 67.1). Attention deficit disorder was found in some children, some had history of drug and alcohol abuse, with few sexual disorders, depression and brief psychotic reaction and was found to be common among adolescent with unstable family situations such as death of parents, divorce of parents, and single parented children.

Conclusion: Findings are suggestive that there is a presence of underlying mental disorders in some of the adolescents in the juvenile detention. Thus mental health screening for children in juvenile homes should be made mandatory in order to identify causes of aberrant behavior as well as provide treatment, prevent complications and maintain mental health of these children. Mental health screening for such children would also assist in conducting a fair trial for these emancipated children.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Open Journal of Nursing

Included in

Nursing Commons