Mental health treatment: Reaching more kids

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Schwartz, C., Yung, D., Cairncross, N., Barican, J., Gray-Grant, D., & Waddell, C. (2020). Mental health treatment: Reaching more kids. Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly, 14(2), 1–16. Vancouver, BC: Children’s Health Policy Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University.

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Background: Nearly 70% of children who are in need of specialized mental health services do not access them. We set out to identify effective self-delivered interventions as a way to help bridge the gap between those in need and those being serviced.

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify randomized control trials (RCTs) evaluating self-delivered treatments. After applying our rigorous inclusion criteria, we accepted five RCTs evaluating five treatment interventions.

Results: Three self-directed family interventions reduced anxiety diagnoses and symptoms for school age children. One self-directed parenting intervention reduced ADHD diagnoses for school age children. Additionally, one self-directed youth invention reduced depression symptoms for adolescents.

Conclusions: Strong research evidence supports the use of self-directed treatments to address three common childhood mental disorders. Greater use of these interventions can expand the number of children who are reached with effective treatments.

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