Building the gateway to success: an appraisal of progress in reaching underserved families and reducing racial disparities in school-based mental health.

Published on Nov 1, 2014in Psychological Services
· DOI :10.1037/A0037969
Laurel Bear5
Estimated H-index: 5
Rosalie Finer1
Estimated H-index: 1
Anna S. Lau52
Estimated H-index: 52
(UCLA: University of California, Los Angeles)
School-based mental health (SBMH) services hold the promise of reducing barriers to care among underserved children and families in need, which can in turn reduce racial disparities in care. Yet, questions remain about the potential of SBMH for equitably reaching diverse communities. In particular, reaching Asian American youth in SBMH may remain a challenge even compared with other immigrant and ethnic minority groups, such as Latinos. This article describes the development and evaluates the service capacity of a SBMH platform in a medium-sized public school district serving predominantly low-income Latino and Asian American families. Service capacity was built through the creation and coordination of a system of community partnerships. Analyses of needs assessment and service referral and utilization patterns revealed no significant racial/ethnic differences in overall rates of mental health need between Latino and Asian American students; yet, Asian Americans were underrepresented in referrals to SBMH. However, once referred to care, there was no difference in the likelihood that Asian American and Latino students received treatment. Although there was an increase in capacity to link students to care, work remains to improve processes of identification to reduce unmet need across diverse groups.
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