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Immediacy “Critical” in CT Adolescent Mental Health Needs

October 1, 2012

HARTFORD, Conn. - Young men of color are experiencing vastly different outcomes in Connecticut when they need mental health help, according to a new report, which says it all depends on where they seek that help.

Jessie White-Fresé, executive director of the Connecticut Association of School-Based Health Centers, says the barriers include not having health insurance, scheduling problems and transportation access when they seek community-based mental health services. She says their new 18-month study shows these barriers disappear when counseling for mental health issues is available at their schools.

"We've found that this is very important to adolescents in particular. When it's important, it's important to them now, and they see the providers in the school all the time. So, the real benefit to them is, they can receive the care when they need it."

She says the young men in the study tended to drop out of community-based health treatment after only one or two visits, but when the same services were offered at school, they usually stayed on for at least a dozen counseling sessions. There are 75 state-funded School-Based Health Centers in 19 communities in Connecticut.

Patricia Baker, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation, says her group provided a $49,000 grant to investigate ways to make these School-Based Health Centers even more effective. As it stands now, she says, too many young men of color end up in juvenile detention.

"Young men of color rarely receive mental health services through the traditional systems. And it's been documented repeatedly in our juvenile justice system, two-thirds of the young men have mental health issues. We would suggest, then they need help."

Baker notes that Connecticut has been a leader in providing these services in school, and that leadership continues with more than $1 million in the state budget to open or expand as many as 20 School-Based Health Centers in the state.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT