Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 327–340

Children of farm laborers: Utilization of services for mental health problems

  • Sandra L. Martin
  • Janis B. Kupersmidt
  • Kristina S. M. Harter


Utilization of various types of services for children's mental health problems was examined among 112 agricultural farm worker families. Pairs of mothers and children (aged 8 to 11) were interviewed using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children and the Child and Adolescent Services Assessment. Sixty-four percent of the children met criterion for one or more psychiatric diagnoses. Children with a psychiatric diagnosis were five times more likely to see a health professional for a mental health problem compared to children without a psychiatric diagnosis. However, less than half of the children with a psychiatric diagnosis saw a health professional for their mental health problems. Families also consulted with school professionals, religious leaders, and non-professionals (such as friends) concerning their children's mental health, but families of children who had a psychiatric diagnosis were not significantly more likely to report these types of consultations than were families of children who did not have a psychiatric diagnosis. These findings are discussed in terms of recommendations for improving the mental health service delivery system for rural children.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Achenbach, T.M., McConaughy, S.H., & Howell, C.T. (1991). Child/adolescent behavioral and emotional problems: Implications of cross-informant correlations for situational specificity.Psychological Bulletin, 101, 213–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alvarez, W.T., Doris, J., & Larson O. (1989). Children of migrant farm work families are at high risk for maltreatment: New York state study.Migrant Health Clinical Supplement. May/June, 1989. National Migrant Referral Project, Inc., Austin Texas.Google Scholar
  3. Baca, R., & Bryan, D. (1983). The assimilation of unauthorized Mexican workers: Another social science fiction?Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 5, 1–20.Google Scholar
  4. Cagle, L.T., & Banks, S.M. (1986). The validity of assessing mental health needs with social indicators.Evaluation and Program Planning, 9, 127–142.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohen, P., & Hesselbart, C.S. (1993). Demographic factors in the use of children's mental health services.American Journal of Public Health, 83, 49–52.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Cohen, P., Velez, N., Kohn, M., Schwab-Stone, M., & Johnson, J. (1987). Child psychiatric diagnosis by computer algorithm: Theoretical issues and empirical tests.Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 26, 631–638.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Coles, R. (1965). The lives of migrant farmers.American Journal of Psychiatry, 122, 271–285.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Costello, E.J., Costello, A.J., Edelbrock, C., Burns, B.J., Dulcan, M.K., Brent, D., & Janiszewski, S. (1988). Psychiatric disorders in pediatric primary care: Prevalence and risk factors.Archives of General Psychiatry, 45, 1107–1116.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Costello, E.J., Edelbrock, C.S., & Costello, A.J. (1985). Validity of the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children: A comparison between psychiatric and pediatric referrals.Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 13, 579–595.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Curry, J.F., Anderson, D.R., & Munn, D.E. (1980). Psychological consultation to rural development centers.Journal of Rural Community Psychology, 1, 24–33.Google Scholar
  11. Day, C., & Roberts, M.C. (1991). Activities of the child and adolescent service system program for improving mental health services for children and families.Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 20, 340–350.Google Scholar
  12. de Leon Siantz, M.L. (1994). The Mexican-American migrant farm worker family: Mental health issues.Mental Health Nursing, 29, 65–72.Google Scholar
  13. Edelbrock, C., Costello, A.J., Kalas, R., Dulcan, M.K., & Conover, N.C. (1985). Age differences in the reliability of the psychiatric interview of the child.Child Development, 56, 265–275.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Farmer, E.M.Z., Angold, A., Burns, B.J., & Costello, E.J. (1994). Reliability of self-reported service use: Test-retest consistency of children's responses to the Child and Adolescent Services Assessment (CASA).Journal of Child and Family Studies, 3, 307–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Franco, J.N., Malloy, T., & Gonzalez, R. (1984). Ethnic and acculturation differences in self-disclosure.Journal of Social Psychology, 122, 21–32.Google Scholar
  16. Garrett, P., & Schulman, M.D. (1988).Migrant and seasonal farm workers in North Carolina: A report based on the analysis of existing data. Cary, NC: North Carolina Primary Health Care Association.Google Scholar
  17. Guendelman, S., & Schwalbe, J. (1986). Medical care utilization by Hispanic children.Medical Care, 24, 925–940.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Henggeler, S.W., & Tavormina, J.B. (1978). The children of Mexican-American migrant workers: A population at risk?Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 6, 97–106.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Hosmer, D.W. & Lemeshow, S. (1989).Applied logistic regression. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  20. Human, H., & Wasem, C. (1991). Rural mental health in America.American Psychologist, 46, 232–239.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Jerrell, J.M., & DiPasquale, S.A. (1984). Staffing patterns in rural health service for children and adolescents.Community Mental Health Journal, 20, 212–222.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Kelleher, K.J., Taylor, J.L., & Rickert, V.I. (1992). Mental health services for rural children and adolescents.Clinical Psychology Review, 12, 841–852.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kupersmidt, J.B., & Martin, S.L. (1995).Mental health problems of children of migrant and seasonal farm workers: A pilot study. Unpublished Manuscript, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.Google Scholar
  24. Kupersmidt, J.B., Martin, S.L., & McCarraher, D.R. (1993). A Spanish version of the CASA: Issues in translation for use with Hispanic migrant farm workers and preliminary results of a study of service use in this population.Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Research Conference on a System of Care for Children's Mental Health: Expanding the Research Base.Google Scholar
  25. Lee, S.H., Gianturco, D.T., & Eisdorfer, C. (1974). Community mental health center accessibility: A survey of the rural poor.Archives of General Psychiatry, 31, 335–339.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. LeVine, E., & Franco, J.N. (1981). A reassessment of self-disclosure patterns among Anglo Americans and Hispanics.Journal of Counseling Psychology, 28, 522–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. LeVine, E., & Padilla, A.M. (1980).Crossing cultures in therapy: Pluralistic counseling for the Hispanic. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  28. Linn, J.G., & Husaini, B.A. (1987). Determinants of psychological depression and coping behaviors of Tennessee farm residents.Journal of Community Psychology, 15, 503–512.Google Scholar
  29. Mobed, K., Gold, E.B., & Schenker, M.B. (1992). Occupational health problems among migrant and seasonal farm workers.Western Journal of Medicine, 157, 367–373.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Murray, J.C., & Keller, P.A., (1991). Psychology and rural America.American Psychologist, 46, 220–231.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. (1989).Chapter 1 and migrant education in North Carolina: 1987–1988. Raleigh: Division of Curriculum and Instruction, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Raleigh.Google Scholar
  32. Palerm, J.V. (1992). A season in the life of a migrant farm worker in California.Western Journal of Medicine, 157, 362–366.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Perloff, J.D., Kletke, P.R., & Neckerman, K.M. (1987).Medicaid and pediatric primary care (pp. 1–15). London: John Hopkins.Google Scholar
  34. Peterson, P.D., & Cox, G.B. (1988). Community mental health staff utilization in Washington State: Characteristics and target groups.Community Mental Health Journal, 24, 65–82.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Petti, T.A., & Leviton, L.C. (1986). Re-thinking rural mental health services for children and adolescents.Journal of Public Health Policy, 7, 58–77.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Reetz, M., & Shemberg, K.M. (1985). Fifth and sixth graders' attitudes toward mental health issues.Journal of Community Psychology, 13, 393–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Roeske, N.C.A. (1984).National survey of child psychiatrists: Their location, patient population, and sources of income. Washington, DC: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  38. Slesinger, D.P., Christenson, B.A., & Cautley, E. (1986). Health and mortality of migrant farm children.Social Science and Medicine, 23, 65–74.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Tarnowski, K.J. (1991). Disadvantaged children and families in pediatric primary care settings: I. Broadening the scope of integrated mental health service.Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 20, 351–359.Google Scholar
  40. Tuma, J.M. (1989). Mental health services for children: The state of the art.American Psychologist, 44, 188–199.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment. (1986).Children's mental health: Problems and services. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  42. Vega, W.A., Scutchfield, D. Karno, M., & Meinhardt, K. (1989). The mental health needs of Mexican American agricultural workers.Migrant Health Clinical Supplement. May/June, 1989. National Migrant Referral Project, Inc., Austin, Texas.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra L. Martin
    • 2
  • Janis B. Kupersmidt
    • 1
  • Kristina S. M. Harter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel Hill
  2. 2.Department of Maternal and Child Health, CB # 7400, School of Public HealthUniversity of North CarolinaChapel Hill

Personalised recommendations