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L Pilling, Jefferson School of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA


Distinguished MPH Capstone Project 2015

The Texas border region experiences adverse cultural, socioeconomic, environmental, and political challenges that influence the mental health status of adolescents living along the border. The purpose of this research was to provide informed advice to relevant policy makers and facilitate decision-making concerning access to culturally competent mental health services for Hispanic adolescents in this region. A systematic literature review was performed to assess the evidence of barriers these adolescents face when accessing mental health services. Interviews with relevant key stakeholders in the region were then conducted to identify their perspectives on barriers to care. The responses were analyzed using a qualitative thematic approach. The stakeholders described issues within the mental health care system, e.g., lack of mental health providers and poor utilization of school-based mental health services, political issues, e.g., a lack of government funding, and social issues, e.g., stigma, cultural norms, and fear over legal status. The information was synthesized and used to identify five policy options to potentially overcome these barriers to increase access to care. The strategies examined were: creation of a Mental Health Provider Education Loan Repayment Program; reauthorization of the federal School-Based Health Center Capitol Program; passage of Texas House Bill No. 313 to increase the number of certified school counselors in school districts; passage of Texas House Bill No. 357 relating to the responsibilities of school counselors; and passage of Texas Senate Bill No. 518 relating to the inclusion of mental health concerns in existing school health efforts. Based on a thorough feasibility analysis of each option, it was determined that the passage of Texas House Bill No. 313, expanding the number of certified school counselors in each school district, is the most favorable option and has the greatest potential to increase access to mental health care services for the Hispanic adolescent border population.

Presentation: 23 minutes

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