Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 399–418 | Cite as

Mental health service utilization among Puerto Rican children ages 4 through 16

  • Beatriz Staghezza-Jaramillo
  • Hector R. Bird
  • Madelyn S. Gould
  • Glorisa Canino
Regular Papers


This paper examines those children receiving mental health services in Puerto Rico, their demographic and psychosocial characteristics, and describes service providers and nature of facilities. The survey was done on a probability sample of children ages 4 through 16 across the island of Puerto Rico (N=777). Need for services was clinically defined as presence of a DSM-III diagnosis and functional impairment. The overall rate of service utilization for Puerto Rican children was 6% (26.2% of “definite cases” and 5.1% of “probable cases”). In most cases services were provided by psychologists and/or social workers, and they were mainly provided in schools and general medical facilities. In over 60% of the children assessed as cases, who did not receive services, the reason, given by the parent was that they considered the problem not serious. Factors associated with service utilization were measures of psychopathology, teacher's perceived need, and parental rates of criticism and hostility. These findings suggest that there is a need for more research on the motivating factors for service use (impairment and parental criticism). Teachers could benefit from receiving special training to help them readily recognize behavioral problems in children, communicate them to parents and set up services alternatives.

Key Words

child-adolescent epidemiology mental health Puerto Rico service utilization 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beatriz Staghezza-Jaramillo
    • 1
  • Hector R. Bird
    • 1
    • 2
  • Madelyn S. Gould
    • 3
  • Glorisa Canino
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryNew York State Psychiatric InstituteNew York
  2. 2.College of Physicians and SurgeonsColumbia UniversityNew York
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology and Child PsychiatryColumbia UniversityNew York
  4. 4.School of MedicineUniversity of Puerto RicoSan Juan

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