Self-Disclosure and Mental Health Service Use in Socially Anxious Adolescents

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Social anxiety disorder is highly prevalent in adolescence, persistent into adulthood, and associated with multiple impairments. Despite the development of efficacious treatments for socially anxious youth, few affected adolescents receive such treatment. This study examined service use in a sample of high school students (n = 1,574), as well as predictors of treatment delay and factors associated with adolescents' disclosure of social difficulties. Self-report measures of social anxiety and service utilization were administered by study staff to 10th- and 11th-grade classrooms across three public high schools. Consistent with the literature, results indicated low treatment utilization (14 %) and lengthy delays in treatment initiation. Symptom severity, impairment, and disclosing anxiety to school personnel were significant predictors of service utilization. Several demographic and illness-specific factors were associated with a higher likelihood of disclosing social discomfort. These findings underscore the important role of school personnel in identifying and referring youth with anxiety disorders. Implications are discussed for increasing access to services, including school-wide screenings and training of school personnel to recognize and provide intervention for anxious youth. © 2012 Springer Science + Business Media, LLC.

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School Mental Health

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