Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 411–420 | Cite as

Gangs and Adolescent Mental Health: a Narrative Review

  • Alastair MacfarlaneEmail author
Exploratory study


This study presents a narrative review of the literature on gang culture and its association with mental health, including an in-depth overview of the topic area and reference to key systematic reviews and meta-analyses. This review will define gang culture, discuss the multiple interacting reasons (biological, psychological and social) why some young people may be attracted to gangs; and the psychiatric morbidities associated with being part of a gang. Gang culture and some adolescent mental health problems are intricately linked. This paper highlights ways in which research, practice and policy could be extended to minimise the injurious effects of gang culture on adolescent mental health.


Gangs Youth Adolescence Violence Recreational drugs 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Alastair Macfarlane declares that he has no conflicts of interest to report.

Ethical Standards and Informed Consent

As a narrative review, this article did not require any specific informed consent.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Virology DepartmentRoyal Free NHS Foundation TrustLondonUK
  2. 2.Barnet HospitalLondonUK

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