A Review of the Key Considerations in Mental Health Services Research: A Focus on Low-Income Children and Families
Children have been particularly vulnerable to the economic challenges of the past decade, with half (45 to 51%) of children under the age of 18 living in a low-income home and nearly 22% of those living in poverty. Low-income children are overrepresented in a range of statistics on psychosocial maladjustment issues, but their families are less likely than other socioeconomic groups to participate in mental health services and intervention research. Thus, this review asserts that substantive advances in mental health services and intervention research with low income families must move beyond a between-group, deficit-focused perspective to a more nuanced contemplation of how to: 1) Operationalize the "income" in low-income families; 2) Disentangle the interrelationship of low income, race, and ethnicity; and 3) Optimize recruitment, engagement and retention efforts via sensitivity to the culture of low-income status. Examples of mental health services and intervention research with low-income families will be discussed, and a summary, conclusions, and directions for future research are discussed in the context of these recommendations.