Practitioners Under Pressure: Clinicians' Delivery of Youth Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Treatment Services
Suicidal ideation and deaths among children and adolescents have seen an unprecedented rise over the last ten years, and these alarming trends may be further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. My research explores mental health professionals' approaches to delivering interventions designed to prevent youth suicide. Using insights from Giddens' structuration theory, I examine licensed mental health professionals' (1) reflections concerning suicide prevention trainings aimed at those in their profession, (2) appraisals of available treatment options, (3) consideration of ethical and legal factors related to their work, and (4) assessments of postvention services provided to professionals who encounter a client suicide. Data were collected through qualitative interviews with youth mental health clinicians who provide mental health treatment in the state of Texas. Among other key concepts from structuration theory, interview transcripts were analyzed with a focus on mental health professionals' negotiation of the signification, legitimation, and domination structures embedded in the mental health system. Attention was also given to the structural impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on intervention services. This study underscores the agency of mental health professionals in navigating the demands of a most difficult profession.