Signpost for health services: Teenagers go from school psychologist to family doctor

June 10, 2014

After initially visiting a school psychologist, adolescents in the United States with a mental disorder often go to seek care from their pediatricians or family doctors. Fewer of them continue their treatment directly with a psychotherapist or doctor specialized in mental disorders. This shows an analysis conducted by scientists at the University of Basel that has just been published in the academic journal PLOS ONE. The results are based on a nationally representative cohort of 6,500 U.S. teenagers.

A considerable number of children and adolescents suffer from a at some point of their time in school. In these cases, school psychologists are an important first contact point. However, their ability to provide comprehensive psychotherapeutic treatment directly is limited. Ideally, school psychologists should guide the way through the system in order to ensure children get access to adequate mental care from specialists.

But what does the reality look like? Which role do school psychologists play in the trajectory of children and adolescents with mental disorders in the health care system? PD Dr. Marion Tegethoff and her research team from the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Basel tried to answer this question in a research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. They analyzed data from a nationally representative United States cohort of 6,483 students aged 13 to 18.

Medical care could be improved

The researchers found that adolescents with mental disorders were more likely to seek help in the medical specialty sector, namely from or pediatricians, after having visited a school psychologist initially. In addition, they were also more likely to use other services such as telephone hotlines, self help groups or family preservation workers. However, visiting a did not influence whether teenagers subsequently went to see doctors and therapists specialized in mental disorders, despite the fact that they are experts for the treatment of children and adolescents with mental disorders.

The researchers interpreted these results as indication that U.S. school psychologists already play an important role in the improvement of mental medical care. "However, it remains to be studied whether the collaboration between schools psychologists, psychotherapists and doctors specialized in mental disorders should be further improved in order to ensure the best care possible," explains Marion Tegethoff. Further analysis has to show to what extent these results obtained in the U.S. can be applied to other countries. So far, many countries lack studies that could help to answer this question.

Explore further: Most teen mental health problems go untreated

More information: Marion Tegethoff, Esther Stalujanis, Angelo Belardi and Gunther Meinlschmidt, School mental health services: signpost for out-of-school service utilization in adolescents with mental disorders? A nationally representative United States cohort. PLOS ONE. Published: June 09, 2014 . DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099675

Related Stories

Most teen mental health problems go untreated

November 18, 2013
More than half of adolescents with psychiatric disorders receive no treatment of any sort, says a new study by E. Jane Costello, a Duke University professor of psychology and epidemiology and associate director of the Duke ...

Researchers examine what works best to engage families in mental health treatments for children

June 5, 2014
Due in part to the common difficulty of engaging families in mental health treatment, many children with mental health disorders do not receive services. The impact can be lifelong, with half of all adult mental health disorders ...

Depressed girls suffer the most

February 12, 2014
Seven out of 10 adolescents with mental health problems also suffer from chronic physical pain. Depressed girls suffer the most.

Schools may help close gap to mental health services for adolescents with mental disorders

May 6, 2013
A study published in the May 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that mental health resources provided by schools are significantly associated with whether adolescents ...

Non-specialist health workers play important role in improving mental health in developing countries

November 19, 2013
Non-specialist health workers are beneficial in providing treatment for people with mental, neurological and substance-abuse (MNS) problems in developing countries – where there is often a lack of mental health professionals ...

Mental-health disorders growing faster among kids than adults

November 27, 2013
(HealthDay)—Young people are increasingly more likely than adults to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder, according to a large new study.

Recommended for you

Before assigning responsibility, our minds simulate alternative outcomes, study shows

October 17, 2017
How do people assign a cause to events they witness? Some philosophers have suggested that people determine responsibility for a particular outcome by imagining what would have happened if a suspected cause had not intervened.

For older adults, volunteering could improve brain function

October 17, 2017
Older adults worried about losing their cognitive functions could consider volunteering as a potential boost, according to a University of Missouri researcher. While volunteering and its associations with physical health ...

Magic mushrooms may 'reset' the brains of depressed patients

October 13, 2017
Patients taking psilocybin to treat depression show reduced symptoms weeks after treatment following a 'reset' of their brain activity.

Living near a forest keeps your amygdala healthier

October 13, 2017
A study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development has investigated the relationship between the availability of nature near city dwellers' homes and their brain health. Its findings are relevant for urban ...

Scientists researching drugs that could improve brain function in people with schizophrenia

October 12, 2017
Virginia Commonwealth University researchers are testing if drugs known as HDAC inhibitors improve cognition in patients with schizophrenia who have been treated with the antipsychotic drug clozapine.

Researchers find a fine timeline between delusion and reality

October 12, 2017
The line between reality and delusion may be just a matter of time, a new Yale study suggests.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tadchem
not rated yet Jun 10, 2014
There seems to be a dubious premise here, that "visiting a school psychologist" is sufficient to establish that a mental disorder is present that should be treated by a psychotherapist or doctor specialized in mental disorders.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.