Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 94-103

First online:

Social indicators and mental health planning: An empirical case study

  • George J. WarheitAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Florida
  • , Charles E. HolzerIIIAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Florida
  • , Lynn RobbinsAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Florida

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This paper reports data from a series of studies designed to provide an empirical basis for making judgments regarding the utility and validity of social indicators as a method for assessing the need for mental health services. The following findings are included: (a) The methodological sophistication of the social indicators approach used did not greatly affect the utility of the technique as a means of identifying low- and high-need subareas in a large standard metropolitan statistical area. (b) Correlations between social indicator rankings of tracts/enumeration districts and mental health needs as determined by psychiatric scale scores varied in two different counties. (c) The degree of tract/district socioecological homogeneity appears to account for the diverse correlations. (d) Tract and enumeration district social indicator rankings uniquely account for less than .50% of the explained variance of individual mental health scores when analyzed in a regression equation which includes socioeconomic status as a variable.