Primary care providers as mental health counselors: Views from Urban, minority adolescents

Sylvia W. Lim, Ellen J. Silver, John Leo, Matthew Kusulas, Elizabeth M. Alderman, Andrew D. Racine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective. To examine urban, minority adolescents’ preferences for receiving guidance for mental health (MH) issues from primary care providers (PCPs) or from mental health providers (MHPs). Methods. Adolescents (13-21 years) from three community clinics and one school-based health center (SBHC) in the Bronx, N.Y. completed anonymous surveys. Characteristics of adolescents who preferred the PCP vs. MHP and adolescents’ attitudes about the PCP vs. the MHP were compared. Results. Adolescents (N=135), mean age 16 years, majority Hispanic participated. Although 85% strongly agreed or agreed that their PCP was knowledgeable about MH, 57% preferred to talk to a MHP. Those who preferred the MHP were younger, attend a SBHC, and trust information on MH from a MHP. Those who preferred the PCP were more likely to report feeling comfortable talking to their PCP about MH. Conclusions. Although the majority preferred a MHP, PCPs appeared to be an acceptable alternative for MH care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1053-1063
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of health care for the poor and underserved
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2016


  • Attitudes and perceptions about mental health
  • Counselor
  • Mental health
  • Primary care providers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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