An examination of the sources and reasons for the referral of children to the Five County Mental Health Clinic
The purpose of this study was to assess the sources of referrals of children with psychological instabilities and the types of problems referred for treatment to the Five County Mental Health Clinic in Warsaw, Indiana.The research was planned to answer two questions: (1) Will the distribution of referral sources be the same for five comparable counties? (2) Will a similar occurrence of delinquent and neurotic behavior be recognized and referred for treatment ineach county?The research was based on the records of 461 children representing all the referrals made to the Clinic in 1973 and 1974. The chi-square test was used to measure factual data quantitatively and to determine significant differences in observed and expected occurrences.The findings show that similar professional groups in comparable counties varied significantly in their utilization of clinic services. No epidemiological studies were done to account for these differences in the sources of referrals from one county to another. It is hypothesized that a difference in knowledge of available services and necessary procedure for establishing contactwith the clinic, a need for specific mental health information to aid in the detection of childhood maladjustments, and stigma attached to psychiatric help are responsible factors.Secondly, the research revealed that unique county characteristics did not influence reasons for referrals to the clinic significantly. For example, one might have expected Kosciusko County, which received national attention as a source of a wild marijuana crop, to show more referrals for drug abuse. This assumption was not supported.Additional examination of the findings also pointed out the need for creating an awareness of the importance of earlier detection and treatment of emotional instabilities. Clinical experience indicates that prognosis is more favorable the earlier a psychiatric problem is treated. This data, however, showed that about one-half of the referred children were in their teens before professional assistance was explored.Finally, the groups of caregivers such as physicians, guidance counselors, ministers, courts, and social welfare agencies who referred few children were isolated in this study. Strengthening appropriate communication channels with these professionals and agencies could increase the effectiveness of the consultative services provided by the clinic and more adequately fulfill regional needs.Since a caregivers's decision to make a referral is a high subjective one and may be threatening to this individual in terms of reflecting his professional competency, the consultative services provided by the clinic are of vital importance.