The Mental Health Needs of Out-of-School Adolescents and Young Adults: An Intervention Conducted in Employment Training Programs, Baltimore, Maryland, 2007-2008
S. Darius Tandon, PhD; Pallab K. Maulik, MD, PhD; Margaret Gifford Tucker, MSPH; Freya Sonenstein, PhD
Suggested citation for this article: Tandon SD, Maulik PK, Tucker MG, Sonenstein F. The mental health needs of out-of-school adolescents and young adults: an intervention conducted in employment training programs, Baltimore, Maryland, 2007-2008. Prev Chronic Dis 2012;9:110163. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd9.110163.
Despite the large number of adolescents and young adults in employment training programs, a population that has poorer health and greater health risk than similarly aged in-school peers, we are unaware of any health interventions that have been evaluated in this setting. The primary objective of our study was to evaluate changes in depressive symptoms, coping strategies, and receipt of mental health services among low-income African American adolescents and young adults receiving a mental health intervention integrated into an employment training program.
The intervention consisted of an on-site mental health clinician, a peer-led depression prevention intervention, and training sessions for employment training staff. A pretest-posttest design assessed depressive symptoms, coping strategies, and receipt of mental health services at baseline and 12-month follow-up. Complete baseline and follow-up data were available for 136 of 218 eligible participants. Most study participants were African American (98%); average age was 18.8 years.
The intervention had no effect on depressive symptoms or coping strategies. The percentage of participants who used mental health services at follow-up increased, but not significantly. Age was associated with use of active and support-seeking coping strategies, whereas use of mental health services before program enrollment was associated with use of mental health services at follow-up.
Alternative intervention strategies may be needed to decrease the severity of depressive symptoms and increase use of coping strategies among adolescents and young adults in employment training programs. Future research evaluating such interventions should use quasi-experimental or experimental designs to provide evidence of intervention effect.