Abstract: Barriers to School-Based Mental Health Resource Utilization Among Black Boys (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Barriers to School-Based Mental Health Resource Utilization Among Black Boys

Friday, January 13, 2023
Alhambra, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Ed-Dee Williams, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Background and Objective: Current research suggests that Black boys disproportionately underutilize mental health resources and are more likely to suffer from untreated mental health challenges). Data trends also show that Black adolescents are one of the least likely groups to use available mental health resources in their school setting and are less likely than their White peers to receive sufficient mental health support. This is surprising given the growing rates at which schools are implementing mental health resources for student use. While there is great potential for these resources to positively impact Black male students, the rates of mental health challenges plaguing Black boys are continuing to grow. The Emergency Task Force on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health, formed by the Congressional Black Caucus, reports that suicide attempts for Black adolescents rose by nearly 75% since 1991 and injury from suicide attempts by Black boys rose by 122%. Furthermore, while rates of depression among Black boys have steadily increased at a rate higher than that of their White peers, their rates of formal depression diagnosis still lag. Despite the implementation of mental health resources in K12 schools, there are still potential barriers that prevent Black boys from accessing them. This study examines barriers to Mental Health Utilization in Schools among Black Boys.

Methods: Secondary data for 172 Black boys were utilized from a baseline mental health needs assessment conducted by a large school district in Southeast Michigan. Logistic regression was employed to examine the predictive power of select psychosocial and access barriers on school-based Mental Health Resource (SBMHR) utilization as well as the relationship between depression and SBMHR utilization. Psychosocial barriers included self-reliance, stigma, trust, and negative previous experience. Access barriers include, no transportation, lack of time, lack of Insurance, and parental restrictions. Participants ranged from 13 to 19 years old, and the majority were in 9th and 10th grade.

Results: There was no significant relationship between depression and school Mental Health Resource use. Additionally, no access barriers were found to be significantly associated with SBMHR utilization. However, self-reliance and stigma were statistically significant predictors. Boys who identified self-reliance in addressing their mental health symptoms were 70% less likely to use available Mental health resources in their school. When stigma was reported as a barrier to using SBMHR, participants were nearly four times more likely to use school-based Mental Health Resources.

Conclusion: Identifying potential barriers to Black boys’ use of school-based mental health resources provides mental health professionals with insight on how to improve these resources and better attract Black boys into utilizing them. This study serves as an early step in exploring how school-based mental health resources can better serve the needs of Black boys. Future studies would benefit from a nationally representative sample that would allow for more generalizable results regarding barriers and facilitators to Black boys’ use of school-based mental health resources. Longitudinal data would also allow for the examination of changes in mental health resource use over time and potentially establish a causal relationship.