Who Gets Care?

Mental Health Service Use Following a School-Based Suicide Prevention Program

Published In: Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, v. 46, no. 10, Oct. 2007, p. 1341-1348

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2007

by Sheryl H. Kataoka, Bradley D. Stein, Erum Nadeem, Marleen Wong

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OBJECTIVE: To examine symptomatology and mental health service use following students' contact with a large urban school district's suicide prevention program. METHOD: In 2001 school district staff conducted telephone interviews with 95 randomly selected parents approximately 5 months following their child's contact with the district's suicide prevention program, a School Gatekeeper Training model. Parents provided information regarding service use, their child's depressive symptoms (using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Predictive Scale, Depression module), and their perceptions of their child's need for services. Information about the crisis intervention was abstracted from a standardized assessment form. RESULTS: More than two thirds of students received school or community mental health services following contact with the suicide prevention program. Depressive symptoms, but not past year suicide attempt, predicted community mental health service use. Latino students had lower rates of community mental health service use than non-Latinos. School-based service use did not differ by student characteristics including race/ethnicity. CONCLUSIONS: Most students identified by a school-based suicide prevention program received follow-up care, although Latinos were less likely to access services outside the school. School-based mental health services may be an important way in which underserved populations at risk of suicide can receive care.

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