Disparities in the use of mental health services, including outpatient care and psychotropic drug prescriptions, persist for black and Latino children, reports a new study in Health Services Research. The report illuminates some disturbing developments, including:
- Despite national initiatives to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in mental health care, black and Latino children continue to use less mental health care services than white children.
- Between 2002 and 2007, the gap in spending for mental health care between Latino and white children increased.
- Among children identified as needing mental health care, whites were approximately twice as likely as blacks and Latinos to initiate care.
"Children’s mental illness is very predictive of poor outcomes later in life—socially, educationally, income-wise and employment-wise,” said lead author Benjamin Lê Cook, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at the Cambridge Health Alliance and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “There is a real need to understand why there are these big differences in mental health care for kids.”