A School-Based Mental Health Program for Traumatized Latino Immigrant Children

Published in: Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, v. 42, no. 3, Mar. 2003, p. 311-318

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2002

by Sheryl H. Kataoka, Bradley D. Stein, Lisa H. Jaycox, Marleen Wong, Pia Escudero, Wenli Tu, Catalina Zaragoza, Arlene Fink

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OBJECTIVE: To pilot-test a school mental health program for Latino immigrant students who have been exposed to community violence. METHOD: In this quasi-experimental study conducted from January through June 2000, 198 students in third through eighth grade with trauma-related depression and/or posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms were compared after receiving an intervention or being on a waitlist. The intervention consisted of a manual-based, eight-session, group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) delivered in Spanish by bilingual, bicultural school social workers. Parents and teachers were eligible to receive psychoeducation and support services. RESULTS: Students in the intervention group (n = 152) had significantly greater improvement in posttraumatic stress disorder and depressive symptoms compared with those on the waitlist (n = 47) at 3-month follow-up, adjusting for relevant covariates. CONCLUSIONS: A collaborative research team of school clinicians, educators, and researchers developed this trauma-focused CBT program for Latino immigrant students and their families. This pilot test demonstrated that this program for traumatized youths, designed for delivery on school campuses by school clinicians, can be implemented and evaluated in the school setting and is associated with a modest decline in trauma-related mental health problems.

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