Engagement in mental health treatment among adolescents and young adults: A systematic review

Hyun Soo Kim, Michelle R. Munson, Mary M. McKay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of the present study is to review empirical evidence of the effects of interventions designed to improve engagement in mental health services among adolescents, young adults and their families. Investigators searched relevant databases, prior reviews, and conducted hand searches for intervention studies that met the following criteria: (1) examined engagement in mental health services; (2) included a comparison condition; and (3) focused on adolescents and/or young adults. Effect sizes for all reported outcomes were calculated. Thirteen studies met inclusion criteria. Conceptualizations of engagement and measurement approaches varied throughout studies. Approaches to improving engagement varied in effectiveness based on level of intervention. Individual level approaches improved attendance during the initial stage of treatment. While family level engagement interventions increased initial attendance rates, the impact did not extend to the ongoing use of services, whereas service delivery level interventions were more effective at improving ongoing engagement. The review illuminated that engagement interventions framed in an ecological model may be most effective at facilitating engagement. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-266
Number of pages26
JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Adolescents
  • Engagement interventions
  • Mental health
  • Young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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