II. Utilization of Mental Health Services in a Tri-Ethnic Sample of Adolescents

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

In our study of a tri-ethnic sample of 2528 junior and high school students, we examined utilization of outpatient mental health services in relation to a number of variables cited in the literature as leading to potential biases and barriers to care. These include: age, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, family size and composition, and linguistic fluency in Hispanic youth. The impact of service availability was examined through differences between the two regions studied: a well-served region of coastal southeast Texas and the markedly under served lower Rio Grande Valley. The impact of symptomatology was evaluated using the total problem score on the Youth Self Report by Achenbach. Hispanic youth had significantly lower mean service utilization than non-Hispanic whites. Multiple regression analyses demonstrated that socioeconomic status and family composition had a greater relative impact on utilization than all other non-clinical factors, both for the total sample as well as for the Hispanic sample. Ethnicity may play a significant role in child mental health services utilization through its close association to socioeconomic status.

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