Race, Ethnicity Affect Kids’ Access To Mental Health Care, Study Finds

One in five Americans is estimated to have a mental health condition at any given time. But getting treatment remains difficult — and it’s worse for children, especially those who identify as black or Hispanic.

That’s the major finding in research published Friday in the International Journal of Health Services. The study examines how often young adults and children were able to get needed mental health services, based on whether they were black, Hispanic or white. Using a nationally representative sample of federally collected survey data compiled between 2006 and 2012, researchers sought to determine how often people reported poor mental health and either saw a specialist or had a general practitioner bill for mental health services.

“No one is necessarily bigoted — and yet we have a system that creates the kind of discrimination we see in the paper,” said Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at City University of New York School of Public Health, and one of the study’s authors. “Kids are getting half as much mental health treatment — and they have the same level of mental health problems.”

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