• Article

Parental problem recognition and child mental health service use

This study estimates the prevalence and correlates of two components of problem recognition among parents and assesses their relative effects on child mental health service use in several settings. Analyses were based on data from a population-based sample of 1,420 youth-parent pairs. Child psychopathology and impairment were assessed using the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment. Problem perception was defined as reporting one or more problems or needs; family impact as reporting one or more impacts. Recent use of 30+ types of mental health services was examined. The frequency of problem perception was 13.3% and family impacts 11.2% across all observations. Among parents of children with 1+ DSM-IV psychiatric diagnosis, 39.0% perceived problems and 31.7% perceived impacts. The strongest predictor of problem perception was impact and vice versa. Problem perception (and not impact) was predictive of specialty services after controlling for child illness. Neither problem recognition component predicted general medical or school use. Findings suggest the need for parent education to help them identify serious problems and for universal screening to ensure that access to specialty services is not dependent solely on parents. Problem recognition should be expanded to include perceptions of other adults in models of access mental health care


Teagle, S. (2002). Parental problem recognition and child mental health service use. Mental Health Services Research, 4(4), 257-266.