Youth Characteristics Associated with Intensity of Service Use in a School-Based Mental Health Intervention

Inger Burnett-Zeigler, John S. Lyons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Several epidemiological studies have reported that large numbers of children and adolescents suffer from diagnosable psychiatric conditions, however most of them do not receive treatment. The schools are a key setting where youth with mental health problems are identified and linked to treatment. In this study we examine the demographic and clinical characteristics of youth referred to a school-based mental health intervention, the youth characteristics associated with continued participation in the intervention at 6-month follow up, and the youth characteristics that are associated with intensity of service use at 6-month follow up. The data were analyzed using descriptive frequencies, Chi-square tests and t tests, and bivariate and multivariable Poisson regressions. Demographic and clinical characteristics were not found to be significantly associated with discontinuing services before 6-months; however, several youth who discontinued services before 6-months had clinical characteristics suggesting a possible need for services. Youth demographic (sex, race) and clinical (diagnosis, suicidal ideation, alcohol/drug use, psychiatric medication use, and physical health) characteristics were significantly associated with intensity of service use in the multivariable analysis. This study underscores the importance of monitoring program participation, after the referral has been made and services have been accessed, to assure that youth participate in treatment long enough to obtain clinical benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)963-972
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This work was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Academic Affiliations, Advanced Fellowship Program in Mental Illness Research and Treatment; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS); Chicago Public Schools; Illinois Department of Health and Human Services. We would like to thank Crystal Jackson, MA, Collette Lueck, Peter Nierman, MD, Tanya Anderson, MD, and Marc Atkins, PhD for their work on this project. The views expressed in this report are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent those of the VA.


  • Children and adolescents
  • Mental health symptoms
  • School-based mental health
  • Service use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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