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Most Teen Mental Health Problems Go Untreated

A Duke University review of a survey involving more than 10,000 American teenagers reveals that more than half of adolescents with psychiatric disorders receive no treatment of any sort.

Moreover, when treatment does occur, the providers are rarely mental health specialists, said Dr. E. Jane Costello, a Duke University professor of psychology and epidemiology, the study leader.

The country’s mental health system has come under scrutiny in recent years following a string of mass shootings in which mental illness seems to have played a role.

The new study, published online in the journal Psychiatric Services, underlines the need for better mental health services for adolescents, Costello said.

“It’s still the case in this country that people don’t take psychiatric conditions as seriously as they should,” Costello said.

“This, despite the fact that these conditions are linked to a whole host of other problems.”

Costello noted that not all teens in the study fared the same. Treatment rates varied greatly for different mental disorders, for instance.

Adolescents with ADHD, conduct disorder or oppositional defiant disorder received mental health care more than 70 percent of the time.

By contrast, teens suffering from phobias or anxiety disorders were the least likely to be treated.

Results also varied greatly by race, with black youths significantly less likely to be treated for mental disorders than white youths.

The care that teenagers received also varied greatly.

In many cases, care was provided by pediatricians, school counselors or probation officers rather than by people with specialized mental health training. There simply are not enough qualified child mental health professionals to go around, Costello said.

“We need to train more child psychiatrists in this country,” Costello said. “And those individuals need to be used strategically, as consultants to the school counselors and others who do the lion’s share of the work.”

The study draws on data from the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement, a nationally representative face-to-face survey of 10,148 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17.

Source: Duke University

Most Teen Mental Health Problems Go Untreated

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Most Teen Mental Health Problems Go Untreated. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2013/11/19/most-teen-mental-health-problems-go-untreated/62242.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.