More Than Half Of Teens With Mental Health Problems Aren't Getting Treatment: Study

Troubling News About Teens With Mental Health Problems
sad teenager face with focus on ...
sad teenager face with focus on ...

More than half of teens with psychiatric disorders go untreated, with treatment rates for some conditions being lower than others, according to a new study.

And among teens with psychiatric disorders who do receive treatment, the health care providers are not often mental health specialists, but rather school counselors, pediatricians and probation officers, said researchers from the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy, the National Institute of Mental Health and Harvard Medical School.

The study, published in the journal Psychiatric Services, is based on 10,000 U.S. teens who participated in the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement survey.

Researchers found that 45 percent of teens who had a psychiatric disorder received service for their disorder in the last 12 months. Teens with ADHD, conduct disorder and oppositional defiance disorder were the most likely to receive service for their conditions (73.8 percent, 73.4 percent and 71 percent, respectively).

Meanwhile, people with phobias and anxiety disorders were the least likely to get help for their conditions in the last 12 months -- 40.7 percent and 41.4 percent, respectively.

School services were the most common source of mental health services for teens with psychiatric conditions -- 23.6 percent -- followed by specialty mental health settings -- 22.8 percent -- and general medical settings -- 10.1 percent. Juvenile justice settings accounted for 4.5 percent of services provided, complementary/alternative medicine accounted for 5.3 percent and human services accounted for 7.9 percent.

"Findings from this analysis of NCS-A data confirm those of earlier, smaller studies, that only a minority of youths with psychiatric disorders receive treatment of any sort," the researchers wrote in the study. "Much of this treatment was provided in service settings in which few providers were likely to have specialist mental health training."

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