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Connecting students to mental health care: pilot findings from an engagement program for school nurses


Schools function as the major provider of mental health services (MHS) for youth, but can struggle with engaging them in services. School nurses are well-positioned to facilitate referrals for MHS. This pilot study examined the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of an engagement protocol (EP) designed to enhance school nurses' utilization of evidence-based engagement practices when referring youth to MHS. Participants were six school nurses and twenty-five adolescents in a large, urban school district. School nurses reported positive attitudes towards the EP, suggesting that they found it feasible and acceptable. Though there were small increases in school nurses' use of engagement practices and in adolescents' readiness for services following training, due to limited sample size, differences were not statistically significant. Still, pilot results suggest preliminary efficacy of training school nurses to strategically implement evidence-based engagement practices to increase adolescents' engagement in MHS.

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