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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999 Sep;38(9):1081-90; discussion 1090-2.

Depressive and disruptive disorders and mental health service utilization in children and adolescents.

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Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.



To examine the relationship of depressive and disruptive disorders with patterns of mental health services utilization in a community sample of children and adolescents.


Data were from the NIMH Methods for the Epidemiology of Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders (MECA) Study. The sample consisted of 1,285 child (ages 9-17 years) and parent/guardian pairs. Data included child psychopathology (assessed by the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children), impairment, child need and use of mental health services, and family socioeconomic status.


After adjusting for potential confounding factors, disruptive disorder was significantly associated with children's use of mental health services, but depressive disorder was not. For school-based services, no difference was found between the 2 types of disorders. Parents perceived greater need for mental health services for children with disruptive disorders than for those with depression. Conversely, depression was more related to children's perception of mental health service need than was disruptive disorder.


The findings highlight the need for more effective ways to identify and refer depressed children to mental health professionals, the importance of improving school-based services to meet children's needs, and the necessity to better educate parents and teachers regarding the identification of psychiatric disorders, especially depression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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