Background: Youth with emotional and behavioural problems often experience ongoing mental health challenges placing them at risk for less than optimal attainment of scholastic and occupational goals. Emotional intelligence (EI) has consistently been associated with good mental health (Martins et al.). The purpose for this study was to explore EI in a sample of youth with emotional and behavioural problems severe enough to warrant residential or day treatment. A second purpose was to explore the relationship of EI with psychological and interpersonal difficulties.
Methods: Cross-sectional surveys were administered to youth accessing residential and day mental health treatment programs.
Results: Thirty youth (mean age 15.30 years, SD1.64; 70% female) reported low Global EI (Total sum 123.00, SD 22.4), and interpersonal problems was strongly correlated with EI.
Conclusion: Youth accessing intensive mental health services reported low emotional intelligence and problems with interpersonal relationships. Implications for focusing research and intervention efforts on fostering interpersonal social skills that may improve youths' quality of their relationships and emotional intelligence are discussed.