Access to Mental Health Treatment for Youth in the U.S.: Predisposing, Enabling, and Need Determinants
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With one in five youth in the United States (US) having a diagnosable mental illness in a given year and fewer than seven percent receiving needed treatment, a tremendous burden has been placed on the US economy and society. Given the lack of connection between mental health service need, resource availability, and factors influencing receipt of treatment, this study aims to lay the groundwork, elucidating the complexity of mental health for youth using Anderson’s Behavioral Model of Service Use. Before further system modifications are made or policy revisions, there needs to be a full understanding of the problem. Utilizing the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, factors that potentially influence reported mental health concerns and service utilization, such as age, gender, SES, geographic location, race/ethnicity, religion, and insurance status, were explored. The results showed that youth with the highest prevalence of MDE in 2015 were White, high SES, females, living in urban settings, with private insurance. However, higher prevalence of MDE did not equate with increased utilization of mental health services, even though MDE was the most significant predictor of mental health utilization in the final logistic regression model. Given the barely adequate fit of the model, important variables are missing in determining access to mental health care in youth. Therefore, it is recommended that a more robust national mental health survey be developed to provide greater understanding of the associated factors to receipt of mental health treatment, in addition to more research to further understand the impact of insurance status and geographic location.