Year: 2018 Source: Preventive Medicine. (2018). 106: 209-215. SIEC No: 20180233

This study examined whether an increase in the availability of mental health services at school-based health centers (SBHCs) in Oregon public schools was associated with the likelihood of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and substance use behaviors among adolescents who experienced a depressive episode in the past year. The study sample included 168 Oregon public middle and high schools and 9073 students who participated in the Oregon Healthy Teens Survey (OHT) in 2013 and 2015. Twenty-five schools had an SBHC, and 14 of those schools increased availability of mental health services from 2013 to 2015. The OHT included questions about having a depressive episode, suicidal ideation, attempting suicide in the past year, and substance use behaviors in the past 30 days. Multi-level logistic regression analyses were conducted in 2017 to examine associations between increasing mental health services and the likelihood of these outcomes. Analysis results indicated that students at SBHC schools that increased mental health services were less likely to report any suicidal ideation [odds ratio (OR) (95% C.I.) = 0.66 (0.55, 0.81)], suicide attempts [OR (95% C.I.) = 0.71 (0.56, 0.89)] and cigarette smoking [OR (95% C.I.) = 0.77 (0.63, 0.94)] from 2013 to 2015 compared to students in all other schools. Lower frequencies of cigarette, marijuana and unauthorized prescription drug use were also observed in SBHC schools that increased mental health services relative to other schools with SBHCs. This study suggests that mental health services provided by SBHCs may help reduce suicide risk and substance use behaviors among at-risk adolescents.