Identifying adolescents at risk through voluntary school-based mental health screening

J Adolesc. 2011 Jun;34(3):505-11. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.05.018. Epub 2010 Jun 18.


This study compares referrals for mental health services among high school students randomized to two means of referral to mental health services: referral via systematic identification through a brief mental health screening procedure (n = 365) or referral via the usual process of identification by school personnel, parents, or students themselves (n = 291). Screened students were significantly more likely than control students (AOR: 21.64 95%CI 6.66-70.36) to receive a referral for mental health services, whether it be to school-based services (AOR: 11.68 95%CI 3.52-8.73) or community-based services (AOR: 20.02 95%CI 2.66-150.41). Post-study, for those screened, 95.5% of school-based mental health services referrals, and 39.3% of community-based referrals were accessed. School based mental health screening identified a significantly greater proportion of youth to be in clinical need of mental health services than would have likely been identified without screening, and increased rates of referral resulted in greater access to mental health services.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services
  • Community Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Parents
  • Pennsylvania
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Referral and Consultation* / statistics & numerical data
  • School Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Urban Population