Professional News
Youth in Comprehensive MH Programs Improve Academically, Psychiatrically
Psychiatric News
Volume 44 Number 13 page 8-8

Young people with serious emotional problems receiving comprehensive, individualized mental health services in conjunction with schools and other community-based organizations experienced a reduction in psychiatric symptoms and an improvement in academic achievement, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The report, "Working Together to Help Youth Thrive in Schools and Communities," was issued in May in conjunction with National Children's Mental Health Day and describes the impact that these comprehensive mental health services—also known as systems of care—have on young people with serious emotional problems. FIG1

The report found that these improvements occurred for many youth within a year of their enrollment in these programs.

According to the report, on average 11 percent of youth with mental health problems aged 14 to 18 fail to reach the next grade level, but among those involved in systems of care, only 8 percent repeated a grade.

The report also revealed that youth involved in systems of care programs for a year or more reported a 62 percent decrease in suicide attempts, and 16 percent reported lower levels of depression. Slightly more than 20 percent reported reduced levels of anxiety than when they began receiving services.

Data included in the analyses for this report represent up to 827 youth aged 14 to 18 who were assessed at intake, at six months, and at 12 months and who entered services from 2003 to 2008.

"Improving the outlook for children with mental health challenges is a critical part of improving our health and educational systems," said Eric Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H., acting administrator of SAMHSA, in a press release. "These data show that systems of care can be an effective means of revitalizing the lives of young people and reducing long-term costly consequences of inaction."

The systems of care described in the report are designed to promote positive mental health outcomes for youth with mental health problems and their families together with schools and other community-based organizations. According to the report, about 65 percent of the young people assessed received at least some type of mental health treatment in school.

Comprehensive mental health service plans designed for youth are highly individualized and culturally competent, according to the report.

"Working Together to Help Youth Thrive in Schools and Communities" is posted at<www.samhsa.gov/children/docs/shortReport.pdf>.

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