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Most Mentally Ill Youth Not Receiving Sufficient Care

The National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S. posts periodic science news stories. A recent article, Majority of Youth with Mental Disorders May Not Be Receiving Sufficient Services, caught my eye. I’ll quote a few paragraphs here, but it is worth following the link to the short article.

Inequities in service delivery, be it by age, gender, ethnicity, geography or other reason really bother me.

The article starts out:

A substantial proportion of youth with severe mental disorders do not receive mental health care, according to data from an NIMH-funded survey published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

and here are the results:

About 36 percent of youth with any lifetime mental disorder received services, and only half of these youth who were severely impaired by their mental disorder received professional mental health treatment. The majority (68 percent) of the children who did receive services had fewer than six visits with a provider over their lifetime.

Service use was highest among those with ADHD (60 percent), and behavior disorders like conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder (45 percent). Among those with mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder, 38 percent received services, and 18 percent of those with an anxiety disorder received services. In addition, 15 percent of those with a substance use disorder received services, and 13 percent of those with an eating disorder received services.

Girls were more likely to receive services for anxiety disorders, and boys were more likely to receive services for ADHD. Racial and ethnic minorities were less likely than non-Hispanic whites to receive treatment for any mood or anxiety disorder, and less likely to receive mental health treatment in general than their white counterparts.

We as a people need to do better. Times are only getting tougher economically, but we have to close the gap on inequities such as this.


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