Feasibility of Shelter-Based Mental Health Screening for Homeless Children

Lynch, S.,
Wood, J.,
Livingood, W.,
Smotherman, C.,
Goldhagen, J.,
Wood, D.
Year Published: 2015
Journal Article
Journal Name: 
Public Health Reports
Volume: 130

Issue: 1
Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH)

Homeless children are at risk for mental health and behavioral disorders due to housing instability and family and environmental risk factors such as domestic violence. However, homeless children seldom receive screening for mental health and behavioral disorders with validated instruments. Moreover, few programs exist that integrate outreach, screening, referral to appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic services, and care coordination. In this pilot study, the authors assessed the feasibility of the Medical Home for Homeless Children Project, a nurse-run program that includes evidence-based screening for child mental health and behavioral disorders, with referral and case management for mental and behavioral health services. Screening identified a group of children with mental health issues that warranted referral, and many of those referrals were successfully completed. Findings demonstrate that shelter-based screening and referral of homeless children by nurses is both needed and feasible. Modified Author Abstract.

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