Key findings from the study:
- Black and Latino children made, respectively, 37 percent and 49 percent fewer visits to psychiatrists, and 47 percent and 58 percent fewer visits to any mental health professional, than white children.
- Black children’s low use of services was not due to lesser need. Black and white children had similar rates of mental health problems, and similar rates of severe episodes that resulted in psychiatric hospitalization or emergency visits.
- Hispanic parents reported less mental health impairment among their children, but analyses that controlled for this lesser need for care continued to show underuse compared to non-Hispanic whites.
- Racial/ethnic disparities were even larger among young adults. Whites received about three times more outpatient mental health services than blacks and Hispanics in this age group. The substance abuse counseling rate for black young adults was strikingly low, about one-seventh that for whites.
- While poor children and young adults had lower rates of care, differences in income and insurance did not account for the racial/ethnic disparities in care.
- Among children, girls got less mental health care than boys. The gender difference was reversed among young adults, with women having more visits.
- Groups at highest risk for incarceration – black and Hispanic young men – had particularly low mental health visit rates. According to Department of Justice data, at least half of inmates suffer from mental illness, most of which had been untreated when they were arrested.
To read more, here is the abstract of the study: http://joh.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/08/11/0020731416662736.abstract