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Community Ment Health J. 2000 Jun;36(3):259-73.

Expanded school mental health services: assessing needs related to school level and geography.

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  • 1University of Maryland School of Medicine, USA.


We surveyed 62 school administrators from three midatlantic (MD, VA, WV) and one northeastern (CT) state on factors relevant to developing school-based mental health programs. Administrators were from schools that varied on education level (elementary, middle, and high) and geographic location (urban, suburban, and rural), with equivalent numbers in each subgroup. Administrators provided ratings to questions grouped in five categories: (a) Stressful Conditions, (b) Internalizing Behavioral Problems, (c) Externalizing Behavioral Problems, (d) Substance Abuse, and (e) Barriers to Mental Health Care, and provided open-ended comments on needs of youth and mental health programs for them. They rated behavioral and substance abuse problems as progressively more serious as students advanced in school level. Urban youth were reported to encounter higher stress and present more severe internalizing problems than suburban or rural youth. Suburban and rural schools provided more health and mental health services than urban schools. Across geographic locales, physical health services far outnumbered mental health services. Findings related to barriers to mental health care, and the viability of schools as delivery sites for comprehensive mental health services, are discussed.

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