Home > Risk-behaviour screening for identifying adolescents with mental health problems in Europe.

Kaess, Michael and Brunner, Romuald and Parzer, Peter and Carli, Vladimir and Apter, Alan and Balazs, Judit A and Bobes, Julio and Coman, Horia G and Cosman, Doina and Cotter, Padraig and Durkee, Tony and Farkas, Luca and Feldman, Dana and Haring, Christian and Iosuec, Miriam and Kahn, Jean Pierre and Keeley, Helen and Podlogar, Tina and Postuvan, Vita and Resch, Franz and others, . (2014) Risk-behaviour screening for identifying adolescents with mental health problems in Europe. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 23, (7), pp. 611-620. DOI 10.1007/s00787-013-0490-y.

Indicated prevention of mental illness is an important public health concern among youth. The aim of this study was to establish a European school-based professional screening among adolescents, which included variables on both a broad range of risk-behaviours and psychopathology; and to investigate the indicative value of adolescent risk-behaviour and self-reported psychopathology on help-seeking and psychological problems that required subsequent mental healthcare.

A two-stage professional screening approach was developed and performed within the multi-centre study “Saving and Empowering Young Lives in Europe” (SEYLE). The first stage of screening comprised a self-report questionnaire on a representative sample of 3,070 adolescents from 11 European countries. In the second stage, students deemed at-risk for mental health problems were evaluated using a semi-structured clinical interview performed by healthcare professionals. 61 % of participants (n = 1,865) were identified as being at-risk in stage one. In stage two, 384 participants (12.5 % of the original sample) were found to require subsequent mental healthcare during semi-structured, clinical assessment. Among those, 18.5 % of pupils were identified due to screening for psychopathology alone; 29.4 % due to screening for risk-behaviours alone; and 52.1 % by a combination of both. Young age and peer victimization increased help-seeking, while very low body mass index, depression, suicidal behaviour and substance abuse were the best predictors of referral to mental healthcare.

Screening of risk-behaviours significantly increased the number of detected students requiring subsequent mental healthcare. Screening of risk-behaviours added significant value in identifying the significant amount of European pupils with mental health problems. Therefore, attention to adolescent risk-behaviours in addition to psychopathology is critical in facilitating prevention and early intervention. Identifying factors that increase compliance to clinical interviews are crucial in improving screening procedures.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Screening / Assessment
Identification #
DOI 10.1007/s00787-013-0490-y
Page Range
pp. 611-620
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