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Adolescence. 1995 Fall;30(119):523-38.

In search of effective programs to address students' emotional distress and behavioral problems. Part I: Defining the problem.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas, Houston 77225, USA.


This article discusses the prevalence and seriousness of emotional difficulties and behavioral problems in students, with a special focus on high school students and the obstacles they encounter when addressing these problems. The educational, psychological, and medical literature which addressed the problem over the past five years was evaluated, and 22 references were selected. It was determined that the lack of consensus on the terms used to describe the problem prevented accurate assessment of its prevalence. However, one fifth to one third of the students were found to be affected, leading to serious educational, psychosocial, and economic difficulties--and more are likely to be affected in the 1990s. Since the school and mental health systems have not been entirely successful in addressing the problem, adolescents' patterns of seeking help indicate that peer support groups can be part of the solution. It was concluded that the enormity of the problem requires a low-cost gate-keeping mechanism to facilitate early identification and intervention. Thus, school peer-support programs, if proven effective, may complement traditional mental health services in addressing adolescents' emotional distress and behavioral problems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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