Disparities in Adequate Mental Health Care for Past-Year Major Depressive Episodes Among White and Non-White Youth

Alexandre, Pierre K.; Younis, Mustafa Z.; Martins, Silvia S.; Richard, Patrick

Objective: Following efforts made in recent years to have effective mental health treatments based on evidence-based guidelines, a working-definition of a minimum level of ‘adequate mental health care (AMHC)’ for serious mental illness (SMI) was developed in the literature. However, little is known about racial/ethnic disparities in receipt of adequate mental health care for SMI. The objective of this study was to examine disparities among Whites and non Whites in receiving adequate mental health care for past-year major depressive episodes (MDE). Methods: The study sample was 1,688 US youth 12 to17 years old affected by MDE in the 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. We estimated the percentages of Whites and non-Whites that received adequate mental health care for MDE and estimated the correlates of receipt of adequate mental health care for the full sample and by racial/ethnic groups. Results: About 34 percent of the sample received adequate mental health care; but separate analyses indicate that a significantly higher proportion of Whites (36 percent) received adequate mental health care relative to non-Whites (28 percent). The odds of receiving adequate mental health care for past-year MDE for Whites were 1.5 times that of non-Whites (p = 0.01). Conclusion: As more adolescents of diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds are identified to access mental health Treatment services, it might be important to examine the degree to which treatment should be tailored to engage and retain specific racial/ethnic groups to get the minimum of adequate mental health care.


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Journal of Health Care Finance

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January 9, 2014