Date of Award

Spring 5-24-2020

Document Type

Doctor of Nursing Practice Final Manuscript

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice



First Advisor

Karen Macauley, PhD, DNP, MSN



TITLE: Mental Health Screening For Low-Income Adolescents

BACKGROUND: Nearly 80% of adolescents in the United States will suffer from a mental illness and not receive evaluation or services. Children from low socio-economic backgrounds have an increased risk of mental health disorders which permeate into adulthood, leading to additional negative sequel and lower quality of life. Among adolescent mental health conditions, depression and anxiety are the most common. Literature has suggested provider intuition alone has low sensitivity and specificity for detecting mental illness and that screening tools are indicated.

PURPOSE: The aim of this project is to implement standardized routine mental health screening and mental health protocols for adolescents to increase access to mental health services.

EVIDENCE-BASED INTERVENTIONS: A standardized mental health protocol was implemented utilizing evidence-based interventions to include standardized screening using the PHQ2 and GAD7. Positively screened individuals received a standardized patient-provider interview and timely referred to in-house psychology or psychiatry.

EVALUATION/RESULTS: During the duration of the evidence-based-intervention, 371 adolescents, 99.2%, were screened at both clinical sites. Of those screened, 27.4% were identified at risk for anxiety and 19.4% were identified at risk for depression. Among those who were identified, 84.2% were offered appropriate mental health services and referrals.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The implementation of a standardized mental health protocol utilizing evidence-based interventions, including screening and appropriate referral, is a valuable method to improve mental health outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: Timely detection for adolescents suffering from mental health disorders increases access to intervention and care that otherwise would not be available.