Family Support and Mental Health Service Use Among Suicidal Adolescents
Despite the fact that multiple evidence-based treatments exist for suicidal adolescents, these youth are unlikely to engage in mental health treatment. While family members can be influential in connecting adolescents to mental health care, suicidal youth are more likely to be exposed to family environments characterized by abuse, neglect, and to have poorer parent–child attachment quality than non-suicidal youth. This study analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to examine the relationships between perceived levels of parental support, symptom severity, and mental health service use in a nationally representative sample of suicidal adolescents in the U.S. (n = 1804). Higher levels of parental support were associated with a lower likelihood of mental health service use, lower levels of depression, and lower likelihood of an actual suicide attempt. Additionally, the presence of a suicide attempt and higher levels of depression were associated with a higher likelihood of mental health service use. When mediation effects were tested, the presence of a suicide attempt partially mediated the relationship between parental support and mental health service use. Implications discussed include the protective nature of parental support the need for more family-based interventions for this population.
KeywordsSuicide prevention Adolescents Family relationships Mental health service use Intervention strategies
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