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White Kids More Likely to Receive Depression Treatment?

According to a recent study from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory, non-Hispanic white teenagers were more prone to receiving depression treatment than any of the other demographics tested.

In order to complete their research, the people involved in the study evaluated a sample of 7,704 adolescents whose ages ranged from 12 to 17 years old. All participants in the analysis had been diagnosed with major depression within the last year. Further, information was divided up to determine the differences in treatment for four racial/ethnic categories: non-Hispanic whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians.

Based on their findings, researchers concluded that 40 percent of non-Hispanic whites received major depression treatment. Blacks came in second with 31 percent receiving major treatment, Hispanics third with 31 percent and Asians fourth with 19 percent.

It was also noted that black, Hispanic and Asian kids were noticeably less likely to receive treatment for depression from mental health professionals and medical providers.

Socioeconomic status and health insurance was taken into account for the study, and apparently, it made up for a small portion of the estimated differences.

Nearly one fourth of all adolescents with major depression got some sort of school-based counseling.

"Investment in quality improvement programs implemented in primary care settings as well as school-based mental health services may reduce unmet need for mental health services in all adolescents with major depression and reduce the sizeable differences in service use across racial/ethnic groups," said study lead authors Dr. Janet R. Cummings and Dr. Benjamin G. Druss.

Above all, this study notes the disparities that occur for depression treatment.

In an editorial, Dr. Nicholas J. Carson had this to say on the matter:

"Future research will also need to clarify how a disproportionately low supply of mental health providers in minority communities affects disparities in access to services," said Carson.

This study appeared in the February 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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