Examining the Relationship Between Socioeconomic Status and Mental Health Needs and Treatment in an Urban, Suburban, and Rural Middle School Community Context
Walker, Brenda M.
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Student mental health needs are on the rise (Department of Education, 2019; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016). The differences in rates of student of mental health needs and differences in barriers to treatment are influenced by many factors including, socioeconomic status, family factors, and community factors. Merikangas and colleagues (2010) found that fewer than half of adolescents with a mental health disorder received any sort of treatment. School psychologists are in a unique position to address student mental health (NASP, 2020). This study was conducted to further the understanding of how community context and socioeconomic status may influence student mental health need and treatment. Survey responses from 8th grade, middle school students in rural, suburban, and urban districts within Minnesota considered for this study were retrieved from the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey (Minnesota Department of Education, 2019). Survey responses were compared to determine differences in frequencies of responses based on school of enrollment between student self-reported mental health, behavioral, or emotional problems and their self-reported rates of obtaining treatment for mental health concerns within each school. Then, analysis explored whether results differed when student socioeconomic backgrounds were considered. Overall, the study identified that student indicated mental health need was most significant in the rural setting when considering all students, and when considering students of lower socioeconomic status. Findings for student indicated mental health treatment were not significantly different across settings, when all student responses were considered, but did indicate a significant difference for rural students using mental treatment, when looking only at students of lower socioeconomic status. Research is needed to inform school psychologists to better identify gaps between mental health need and treatment in different community settings. Continued research can help identify unmet mental need and allow for effective collaboration with community mental health resources.
Students--Mental health services
Health behavior in adolescence--United States
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