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Ment Health Serv Res. 2004 Dec;6(4):213-26.

Use of mental health services by youths in public sectors of care.

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  • 1Child and Adolescent Services Research Center, Children's Hospital, San Diego, California 92123-4282, USA.


The present paper examined the lifetime rates of mental health service use in a representative sample of youths identified as receiving services in at least one sector of care in a publicly funded service system of a large, metropolitan area. Service use was examined in relation to age, gender, mental health diagnostic status, and service sector involvement. Participants were 1706 youths ages 6-17 years who were active in at least one of the following service sectors: alcohol and drug services, child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, and special education services for serious emotional disturbance. Structured service use and diagnostic interviews were administered to youths and their caregivers. High lifetime rates of mental health service use were found. Eighty-seven percent of the sample used at least one outpatient service, 45% used at least one inpatient service, and 71% reported use of a school-based service. Youths involved with the mental health and special education sectors had the highest rates of service use. In contrast, youths enumerated from the juvenile justice system tended to have the lowest rates of use. Additional research is needed to refine our understanding of the factors associated with the observed patterns of service use.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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