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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Examining Latino Adolescents' Use of School-Based Mental Health Services

Dana B. Rusch, MA and Olga Reyes, PhD. Department of Psychology (M/C 285), University of Ilinois at Chicago, 1700 W. Harrison St., Chicago, IL 60607-7137, 773-339-5159, drusch1@uic.edu

Background: A large percentage of U.S. youth have unmet mental health needs, and the percentage is higher for Latinos than Non-Latino Whites (NLWs). The school is regarded as the de facto mental health service sector for youth. Therefore, the goal of the current study was to examine factors that influence Latino youths' use of school-based services.

Method: The current study utilized a sample of predominantly low-income Latino and NLW 10th-12th graders enrolled at a Chicago public high school (n=106). A self-report questionnaire assessed the effect of need for services, help-seeking orientation, and acculturation (U.S. and Latino orientations) on school- and community-based mental health service use.

Results: Contrary to study hypotheses, results revealed no ethnic differences on unmet need or service use within the last six months. Latinos used more formal school services (50.6%) compared to formal community services (23.6%). Models that included need, help-seeking, and Latino Orientation as predictors of school service use were significant. Among Latinos with higher levels of need, those with lower Latino Orientation or Latino Identity scores were less likely to have used school services. Latinos had lower scores help-seeking scores than NLWs; however, help-seeking was not positively correlated with U.S. Orientation. Instead, help-seeking was positively correlated with Latino Orientation and Latino Identity.

Conclusions: School-based services increased access to care for Latino adolescents, but these results suggest that culture and ethnic identity play an influential role in help-seeking. The importance of Latino identity and bicultural status are also discussed as potential predictors of service use.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: School-Based Health Care, Latino Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Issues Among Hispanics

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA