Adolescent males of color treated for violent injury and discharged from an urban pediatric emergency department (ED) overwhelmingly identified a need for mental health care, according to research from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)’s Violence Intervention Program (VIP), published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
“We know that it is vitally important to listen to the voices and needs of youth,” said lead study author Rachel Myers, PhD, research scientist at CHOP. “This work highlights how adolescent males receiving care in the ED with what may be physically minor injuries are suffering significant trauma. We also know that with real support, young people are resilient, go back to school, and go on to graduate and pursue their goals.”
The study examined data from 49 adolescent males who were treated at CHOP’s ED between January 2012 and August 2016 after suffering a violence-related injury, typically from peer assaults, and elected to enroll in VIP. Participants, predominantly young men of color between the ages of 12 and 17 years old, identified their needs and goals for recovery at intake and during the course of their participation in case management.
At intake to the CHOP VIP, nearly two-thirds of the adolescents reported significant traumatic stress symptoms. Most (75 percent) of the injuries were non-penetrating.
Nearly 90 percent of participants felt they needed mental health services, including therapy and suicide counseling. More than half (60 percent) said they needed legal help, including obtaining police reports. About half (56 percent) also identified a need for psychosocial support, and said they would attend peer group sessions with other injured youth. Adolescent males treated and discharged from the ED were significantly more likely to identify safety needs, such as addressing peer relationships in school and community, as compared to those admitted to the hospital, who may have experienced more serious injuries.
VIP utilizes resources provided by CHOP’s Violence Prevention Initiative, an evidence-based effort to protect youth from violence and promote healing. Learn more at Chop.edu/violence.