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Use of a Nomination Strategy to Identify Mental Health Help-Seeking Patterns by High School Students and Their Association With Mental Health Service Use

by Jennifer Greif Green, Melissa K. Holt, Javier Guzmán , Rachel Oblath, Chelsey Bowman & Shanee Abouzaglo - November 27, 2018

Background: There are high rates of unmet mental health need among adolescents, but youth who seek help from informal adult sources (e.g., parents, teachers) are more likely to access formal mental health services than their peers.

Objective: This research note provides an example of a simple nomination strategy that can be used by schools to ask students to identify the school staff who they are most likely to approach for help when they are experiencing emotional problems.

Research Design: Participants were students (N = 1,312) at two high schools engaged in a university-district partnership. Students completed an anonymous survey assessing mental health need and service use. Students were also asked to nominate up to three school staff who they would go to for help with emotional problems.

Results: Most students nominated at least one staff member, though almost half of those with elevated mental health problems nominated no one. Students nominating at least one teacher had substantially greater odds than their peers of receiving mental health services.

Conclusions: The nomination process described in this research note has the potential to inform school leaders about patterns of help-seeking among students. In addition, it can identify highly nominated school staff who might then be provided more intensive mental health training. Results also indicate school-specific trends in help-seeking, suggesting that school leaders might benefit from considering their unique study body and school staff members to best inform the selection of trainings and supports for school staff.

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The authors would like to thank Brian Mayville, Melody Eaton, Noah Segal, and Gerrit DeYoung for their assistance with this project.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: November 27, 2018
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 22576, Date Accessed: 9/23/2020 6:15:20 PM

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About the Author
  • Jennifer Green
    Boston University
    E-mail Author
    JENNIFER GREIF GREEN is an associate professor of education at Boston University. Her research examines supports for students with emotional/behavioral disorders, school-based mental health services, and disparities in mental health service access.
  • Melissa Holt
    Boston University
    E-mail Author
    MELISSA K. HOLT is an Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology at BU Wheelock. Her research focuses on how victimization of youth in schools, at home, and in the community affects functioning across multiple domains (e.g., psychological, academic). Further, she engages in evaluation studies of school-based programs designed to reduce bullying and harassment, and to improve student social-emotional well-being.
  • Javier Guzmán
    Boston University & Universidad del Desarrollo
    E-mail Author
    JAVIER GUZMÁN was a doctoral student in Applied Human Development at the Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, Boston University. He was also an instructor and researcher at the School of Psychology of Universidad del Desarrollo. Previously, Javier worked for ten years in a public preventive program of school mental health called “Skills for Life” of JUNAEB (Ministry of Education). His research focused on school mental health and subjective well-being.
  • Rachel Oblath
    Boston University
    E-mail Author
    RACHEL OBLATH is a Ph.D. student in Applied Human Development at the Wheelock College of Education and Human Development, Boston University. She is interested in mental health service provision for children and adolescents with mental health challenges, and particularly those who experience peer victimization. A particular focus is student’s access to social and emotional support services during the summer, when school is not in session. Rachel also studies power dynamics in the context of school bullying. Her focus is on understanding heterogeneity of bullying experiences to inform tailored prevention and intervention.
  • Chelsey Bowman
    Boston University
    E-mail Author
    CHELSEY BOWMAN is a fourth year Counseling Psychology doctoral student at Boston University Wheelock School of Education and Human Development. Chelsey researches the impact of a range of victimization forms (e.g., sexual assault, dating violence, bullying) on the health and well-being of K-12 and college students. She has a particular research interest in the well-being of collegiate student-athletes. She has also been a coauthor on other papers, including Peer victimization and sexual risk taking among adolescents (in press) and The trouble with bullying in high school: Issues and considerations in its conceptualization (2016).
  • Shanee Abouzaglo
    Boston University
    E-mail Author
    SHANEE ABOUZAGLO is an Undergraduate Research Assistant. Her research interests include the social determinants of adolescent mental health and health disparities experienced by racial/ethnic and sexual and gender minorities.  
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