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Increasing Access to Psychiatric Services in Schools

The Bridge Program


Journal of Psychiatric Practice®: May 2019 - Volume 25 - Issue 3 - p 227–236
doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000381
Practitioner's Corner

One in 5 youth experience a psychiatric disorder in any given year, but fewer than half of these youth receive mental health services. This lack of service utilization is often attributed to structural and perceptual barriers, and school-based mental health programs have been proposed as a means of addressing these barriers and increasing youths’ access to services. While universal prevention programs and targeted treatments may benefit most youth receiving services in schools, collaborations between schools and child psychiatry may benefit youth with the most severe symptoms and the greatest impairment. This article describes the Bridge Program, a school-based psychiatric program funded by a county-wide mental health tax initiative designed to provide psychiatric services in local schools without any out-of-pocket expenses for youth and families within 10 days of referral. Two case reports provide a description of the delivery of psychiatric services through the Bridge Program. Future research is needed to compare the feasibility and effectiveness of different approaches to increasing access to youth psychiatric care.

CHO: Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

HERMAN: Department of Educational, School & Counseling Psychology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

SALAU: Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Missouri and Compass Health Network, Columbia, MO

YOUNG-WALKER: Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

This project was funded by the Boone County Children’s Services Fund. Permission was obtained from the families involved to present these case descriptions.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Please send correspondence to: Evelyn Cho, MA, Department of Psychological Sciences, 210 McAlester Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211 (e-mail:

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