Barriers and facilitators for access to mental health services by traumatized youth

April Joy Damian, Joseph J. Gallo, Tamar Mendelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Polytrauma is a highly prevalent public health problem in the U.S. with even higher rates in urban areas. Children with polytrauma often end up in multiple child-serving systems (e.g., mental health, child welfare, education, juvenile justice) with needs that are both complex and severe. Providers within these child-serving systems have potential to serve as gatekeepers to trauma services by linking youth with trauma-informed treatments and supports that promote recovery. The purpose of our study was to assess the perspective of providers who participated in a nine-month, trauma-informed care (TIC) training intervention on 1) their capacity to make referrals to trauma-specific services following the training, and 2) factors external to the training intervention that supported or hindered their ability to link traumatized youth with services. A subset of sixteen participants from the TIC training completed individual interviews. These participants were predominantly female, African American, and based in the social services sector. The constant comparative method was used to derive three thematic domains related to participant perceptions regarding youth referrals: 1) Organizational and provider capacity to provide trauma treatment or to make referrals to trauma-specific services, 2) Barriers to youth accessing trauma services, and 3) Suggestions for improving coordination of care and referrals. Our study highlights the influence of contextual factors on whether a TIC training can improve the capacity of agencies and individual providers to support traumatized youth in accessing appropriate services. The development of a structure that formally connects youth-serving agencies and providers with specialists trained in addressing traumatized youth is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-278
Number of pages6
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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