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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2013 May;52(5):501-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2013.03.002. Epub 2013 Apr 3.

School mental health resources and adolescent mental health service use.

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  • 1School of Education, Boston University, Two Silber Way, Boston, MA 02215, USA.



Although schools are identified as critical for detecting youth mental disorders, little is known about whether the number of mental health providers and types of resources that they offer influence student mental health service use. Such information could inform the development and allocation of appropriate school-based resources to increase service use. This article examines associations of school resources with past-year mental health service use among students with 12-month DSM-IV mental disorders.


Data come from the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), a national survey of adolescent mental health that included 4,445 adolescent-parent pairs in 227 schools in which principals and mental health coordinators completed surveys about school resources and policies for addressing student emotional problems. Adolescents and parents completed the Composite International Diagnostic Interview and reported mental health service use across multiple sectors. Multilevel multivariate regression was used to examine associations of school mental health resources and individual-level service use.


Nearly half (45.3%) of adolescents with a 12-month DSM-IV disorder received past-year mental health services. Substantial variation existed in school resources. Increased school engagement in early identification was significantly associated with mental health service use for adolescents with mild/moderate mental and behavior disorders. The ratio of students to mental health providers was not associated with overall service use, but was associated with sector of service use.


School mental health resources, particularly those related to early identification, may facilitate mental health service use and may influence sector of service use for youths with DSM disorders.

Copyright © 2013 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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