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Mental Health Treatment

Narrative

In 2009, 2.9 million, or 12.0 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 received past-year treatment or counseling for problems with emotions or behavior (not including problems caused by drug or alcohol use) in a specialty mental health setting, including both inpatient1 and outpatient2 care. A similar proportion of adolescents received mental health services in an educational setting3 (12.1 percent) while 2.5 percent received services from a pediatrician or other family doctor in a medical setting, and less than 1 percent received mental health services in a juvenile justice setting. About 5 percent of adolescents received mental health services in both a specialty mental health setting and either an educational or a medical setting.

A greater proportion of females received specialty mental health services (14.0 percent) than males (10.1 percent). Few racial and ethnic differences in service site for past-year treatment were observed with two notable exceptions: Asians were less likely to receive services in a specialty mental health setting compared to non-Hispanic White and Black children (6.6 percent versus 12.8 and 12.2 percent, respectively) and non-Hispanic Black children were more likely to receive services in an educational setting (16.4 percent) than children of other racial/ethnic groups.

The most commonly reported reason for service use was feeling depressed. This was true for nearly half of adolescents who received services in either a specialty mental health or medical setting, and over one-third of those who received services in an educational setting. Overall, reasons for treatment or counseling varied by service site. For example, problems with home/ family was reported as the reason for seeking services by 27.8 percent of those seeking care in a specialty mental health setting compared to 17.8 and 11.9 percent of those treated in educational and medical settings, respectively.

1 Includes treatment/counseling from an overnight or longer stay in a hospital, residential treatment center, or foster care or therapeutic foster care home.
2 Includes treatment/counseling from a private therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or counselor; mental health clinic or center; partial day hospital or day treatment program; or in-home therapist, counselor, or family preservation worker.
3 Includes treatment/counseling from a school social worker, school psychologist, or school counselor.

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

mental health service use graph

This image is described in the Data section.

reasons for mental health service graph

Data

Past-Year Mental Health Service Use Among Adolescents Aged 12-17, by Service Site, 2009

Percent of adolescents:

  • Outpatient: 10.8
  • Inpatient: 2.3
  • Educational: 12.1
  • Medical: 2.5
  • Multiple: 4.9

*Inpatient or Outpatient services in addition to services received in either an educational or medical setting.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2009 National Survey of Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings. Accessed March 2011.

Selected Reasons* for Mental Health Service Use Among Adolescents Aged 12-17,** by Service Site, 2009
Reasons Percent of Adolescents
Specialty Mental Health Education Medical
*Respondents could report multiple reasons.
**Among adolescents who received past-year mental health treatment or counseling.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2009 National Survey of Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings. Accessed March 2011.
Suicidal Thoughts/Actions 20.7 9.4 15.0
Depressed 46.0 36.2 48.0
Rule Breaking/Acting Out 26.1 24.9 14.0
Problems with Home/Family 27.8 17.8 11.9
Problems with Friends 13.2 21.0 7.5
Problems at School 19.1 21.2 13.6

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