School-Based Mental Health Services for Urban Children

This study has been completed.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Marc Atkins, University of Illinois at Chicago Identifier:
First received: January 22, 2008
Last updated: May 15, 2014
Last verified: May 2014

This study will evaluate the effectiveness of school- and home-based mental health services and training modules in supporting learning and behavior in financially disadvantaged children who live in urban areas.

Condition Intervention
Conduct Disorder
Oppositional Defiant Disorder
Attention Deficit Disorder With Hyperactivity
Behavioral: Community mental health consultation model program
Behavioral: Treatment as usual (TAU)

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Single Blind (Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Health Services Research
Official Title: Mental Health Services & Predictors of Learning in Urban Schools

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by University of Illinois at Chicago:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Social Skills Rating System (Parent Report) [ Time Frame: Measured at pre- and post-school year for 3 years ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
    This rating scale was completed by parents to assess how frequently their child engaged in a range of disruptive, prosocial, and academic behaviors (0 = Never to 2 = Very Often). Normative data are provided by age and sex and the measure was standardized on a heterogeneous population of which one third were urban and 28% were minorities. The scale score, Social Skills, was the primary outcome measure. Scores are rated on a scale of 0 (Never) to 2 (Very Often). The scale score, Social Skills, containing 38 items, was the primary outcome measure. Scores range from 0 to 76 with higher scores indicating improved social skills.

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • The Academic Competence Evaluation Scale (ACES) [ Time Frame: Measured at pre- and post-school year for 3 years ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
    The ACES is a teacher rating scale that describes a set of behaviors and attitudes measuring teachers' perceptions of student's academic competence and performance. The scale consists of 30 items rated on a 5-point scale (1 = Never, 2 = Seldom, 3 = Sometimes, 4 = Often, 5 = Almost Always). The total score was reported as a mean per item with higher scores indicating better academic competence. Scores could range from 1 to 30.

Enrollment: 482
Study Start Date: June 2005
Study Completion Date: May 2010
Primary Completion Date: May 2010 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: Links to Learning
Participants received the community mental health consultation model program.
Behavioral: Community mental health consultation model program
The community mental health consultation model program included collaboration among community mental health providers and (1) parent advocates to effectively maintain families in a school-based mental health program, (2) classroom teachers to enhance children's academic performance, and (3) peer-identified influential teachers to influence classroom teachers' use of behavior management strategies. This model further focused on the strongest teacher and parent predictors of student learning.
Other Name: Links to Learning (L2L)
Active Comparator: Services as Usual
Participants received treatment as usual and referrals.
Behavioral: Treatment as usual (TAU)
TAU included referral to community mental health clinic-based services, where participants received standard care for mental health-related problems.

Detailed Description:

There are an estimated 4.5 to 6.3 million children with mental disorders in the United States. Emotional and behavioral problems associated with childhood mental disorders have a significant impact, with affected children at an increased risk of reduced quality of life and school dropout. If left untreated, childhood mental disorders may continue into adulthood, often impairing ability to function as an adult. It is believed that, compared to clinic-based services, school- and home-based mental health services may lead to greater improvements in children's learning and behavior at school and home. Especially important to this type of approach is a collaborative effort among parents, teachers, and children to encourage and maintain positive behaviors and academic performance both at home and in the classroom. This study evaluated the effectiveness of school- and home-based mental health services and training modules in supporting learning and behavior in financially disadvantaged children who live in urban areas.

This 3-year study involved parent, child, and teacher participants. During Year 1, teacher participants attended a professional development series that focused on strategies that classroom teachers can use to help children with learning and behavior problems at school. The series involved weekly 30-minute sessions, which were held before and after school hours, for a total of 6 months. Teachers completed a brief survey about the content and structure of sessions at the end of each session and gave a monthly review on how they applied their new strategies in the classroom setting. Teachers continued to attend booster sessions of up to 1 hour each month during Year 2. Teachers also participated in periodic case consultation meetings with parents and mental health providers to further develop ways to improve student participants' learning and behavior.

Child participants received either the community mental health program associated with their school or received general clinic-based services (Treatment as usual). The school component of the mental health program consisted of a classroom environment in which the teachers implemented their newly learned strategies to enhance the academic and behavioral performance of the child participants. Parents of child participants in the community mental health program were invited to attend a series of parent/teacher meetings and home visits where mental health service providers discussed strategies that parents and teachers can use to help improve their children's learning and behavior. Parents completed a brief questionnaire at the end of each meeting and gave a monthly review of how they implemented their new strategies in the home setting. Parents continued to communicate with research staff regarding services provided throughout the study.

Assessments for all participants occurred five times over 3 years. Assessments for parent participants included questions about their child's behavior at school and home, their child's use of mental health services, involvement in their child's schooling, and possible stresses in life. Assessments for teachers included questions about the behavior and academic performances of the child participants, parent involvement with the children's schooling, and stresses in their work environment. A research staff member also conducted a 2-hour classroom observation five times over 3 years. Individual child participants were also observed in the classroom by research staff for three 15-minute intervals five times over the study period.


Ages Eligible for Study:   5 Years to 12 Years
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Student in kindergarten through 4th grade in a participating school
  • Diagnosis of conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as confirmed by parent and/or teacher report
  • Parents and teachers of these students were also eligible to participate

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Severe developmental or medical disability

Note: Teachers, parents, and mental health providers of the children enrolled in the study were also consented as per directions from our Institutional Review Board (IRB) because we were asking about sensitive information. Therefore, the ages listed below are for the children enrolled in the study as this was the determining criteria for study participation. Ages of participating adults (i.e., parents and teachers) were included in Baseline Characteristics to provide a complete description of the study participants. However, although adults participated in the study, the eligibility criteria were based on child characteristics as noted above.

  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00612690

United States, Illinois
University of Illinois at Chicago, Institute for Juvenile Research
Chicago, Illinois, United States, 60608
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of Illinois at Chicago
Principal Investigator: Marc S. Atkins, PhD University of Illinois at Chicago
  More Information

Neal, JW, Shernoff, ES, Frazier, S.L, Stachowicz, E, Frangos, U, & Atkins, MS (2008). Change from within: Engaging teacher key opinion leaders in the diffusion of interventions in urban schools. The Community Psychologist, 41:2, 53-57
Atkins MS, Frazier SL. Expanding the toolkit or changing the paradigm: Are we ready for a public health approach to mental health? Perspectives on Psychological Science 6: 483-487, 2011

Responsible Party: Marc Atkins, Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago Identifier: NCT00612690     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: R01 MH073749, R01MH073749, DSIR 82-SECHC
Study First Received: January 22, 2008
Results First Received: August 16, 2013
Last Updated: May 15, 2014
Health Authority: United States: Federal Government

Keywords provided by University of Illinois at Chicago:
School-Based Mental Health Services
Urban Poverty

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity
Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders
Conduct Disorder
Mental Disorders
Mental Disorders Diagnosed in Childhood
Pathologic Processes processed this record on July 05, 2015