Study by NYU Silver School Researcher Michael Lindsey Explores What Works Best to Bring Children and Families into Mental Health Treatment


At issue is the divide between high mental health need and low service use among children.

Due in part to the common difficulty of engaging families in mental health treatment, many children with mental health disorders do not receive services. The impact can be life-long, with half of all adult mental health disorders beginning during childhood.

A new article authored principally by Michael A. Lindsey, associate professor at the Silver School of Social Work of New York University, sifts the findings of nearly 350 randomized controlled trials and studies based on the experiments – identifying the most effective engagement and retention elements for practitioners to employ.

The article, “Identifying the Common Elements of Treatment Engagement Interventions in Children’s Mental Health Services,” appears in Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, and was co-authored with Nicole E. Brandt, Kimberly D. Becker, Bethany R. Lee, Richard P. Barth, Eric L. Daleiden, and Bruce F. Chorpita.

Barriers to mental health treatment may be practical in nature—lack of transportation or child care assistance – or perceptional, rooted in misperceptions about the importance or relevance of such treatment, prior negative experiences with treatment, or the stigma that exists with regard to mental illness and mental health services, the authors write.

But while issues of engagement and retention have been described by federally commissioned reports as pivotal to addressing the divide between high mental health need and low service use, “treatment engagement remains a poorly understood component of successful service delivery,” according to the article.

“This could be, in part, related to the fact that despite rich theory, information from research on engagement strategies has not been aggregated in ways that are readily translatable into improved services.” With this study, Lindsey and his colleagues aim to change that.

Professor Lindsey is available for interview about this subject. To arrange an interview, please contact the NYU press liaison listed with this press release.

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