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Prevalence and Barriers of Mental Health Screening Tool Use of Adolescents in Truckee, CA
AdvisorDeBoor, Stephanie S.
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Youth suicide is a serious public health issue. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youths between the ages of 10 and 24. Rural mountain communities of the inter-mountain west have youth suicide rates that are nearly twice the national average. Screening for mental health issues in adolescents with a validated mental health screening tool by primary care providers is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP, 2012) and is one strategy to identify adolescents with mental health issues and identify adolescents who are at risk of suicide. However, research indicates that screening of adolescents in primary care for mental health issues is low.The purpose of this research was to survey primary care providers in the rural mountain community of Truckee, California to assess the prevalence of screening adolescents with mental health screening tools, and in cases where screening with a tool was not taking place, to attempt to identify barriers to use.A researcher developed questionnaire was used to assess the prevalence and barriers to use of mental health screening of adolescents by primary care providers. Results showed that screening using a mental health screening tool is at a 25% level. Definitive barriers to use were not able to be identified; however, certain themes were identified as possible barriers with respect to attitudes about mental health screening tools.Knowledge in the under screening for mental health issues in adolescents by primary care providers can prompt primary care providers to explore ways to ameliorate under screening through practice change and policy implementation. Furthermore, awareness that barriers may exist to using mental health screening tools may help primary care providers to explore their own reasons for not screening adolescents for mental health issues using a mental health screening tool.