Mental Health Treatment

Narrative

Mental disorders are the most common cause of disability and are responsible for 25 percent of all years of life lost to disability and premature mortality.1 Besides disability, untreated mental disorders may lead to unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration, and suicide, and cost the U.S. economy $100 billion a year. Early implementation of treatment accelerates recovery and reduces the impacts of mental disorders. Treatment can reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life.2

In 2012, 3.1 million (12.7 percent) of adolescents aged 12–17 received past-year treatment or counseling for problems with emotions or behavior (not related to drug or alcohol use) in a specialty mental health setting, including both outpatient and inpatient care (11.5 and 2.4 percent, respectively). A similar proportion of adolescents received mental health services in an educational setting (12.9 percent), 2.5 percent received services in a medical setting, and 5.5 percent received services in both a specialty mental health setting as well as either an educational or medical setting (Figure 1).

mental health service among adolescents

Figure 1 Source

The most commonly reported reason for past year receipt of mental health services was feeling depressed, reported by 44.3 percent of adolescents who accessed mental health services. Other reasons include feeling afraid and tense (16.2 percent), having thoughts of or attempting suicide (14.8 percent), breaking rules and “acting out” (14.8 percent), having problems at school (14.8 percent), and having problems with home or family (14.2 percent).

Increasing the proportion of people with mental disorders who receive treatment is a national Healthy People 2020 objective.3 Among adolescents who experienced a past-year major depressive episode (MDE is defined on Adolescent Mental Health within the Health Status Behaviors section), 37.0 percent received treatment for their depression. Treatment included seeing or talking to a professional or using prescription medication for depression.

The rate of treatment varied by sex, race, ethnicity, geographic region, and insurance coverage. Females were more likely to receive treatment for depression than males (40.1 versus 28.3 percent, respectively; Figure 2). Non-Hispanic White youth were more likely to receive treatment than Hispanic youth (40.7 versus 30.8 percent, respectively); 33.5 percent of non-Hispanic Black youth received treatment for depression.

treatment for depression among adolescents

Figure 2 Source

With regard to geographic region, adolescents who experienced a past-year MDE from the Northeast and Midwest (42.2 and 41.2 percent, respectively) were more likely to receive treatment than those from the South and West (34.1 and 34.9 percent, respectively). Adolescents with no insurance coverage (23.0 percent) were less likely to receive treatment for their depression compared to adolescents with Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program or private coverage (36.9 and 38.1 percent, respectively).

Some barriers to treatment for mental disorders include discrimination and prejudice and accessibility. Discrimination and prejudice may cause individuals to avoid talking about their illness with friends and family and inhibit receipt of care.4 Individuals may fear that symptoms will not be taken seriously, especially those of adolescents that may be mistaken for puberty instead of a mental disorder.5 The Mental Health Parity Act under the Affordable Care Act requires health insurance to cover mental and physical health equally.6 The expansion of coverage includes preventive services, such as behavioral assessments for children, free of charge and insurance companies no longer being allowed to deny coverage or charge more for mental disorders.7

Data Sources

Figure 1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: detailed tables, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13–4795. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2013. Accessed April 18, 2014.

Figure 2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: detailed tables, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13–4795. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2013. Accessed April 18, 2014.

Endnotes

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2020 topics & objectives: mental health and mental disorders. Accessed April 22, 2014.

2 National Alliance on Mental Illness. What is mental illness: mental illness facts. Accessed April 22, 2014.

3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2020 topics & objectives: mental health and mental disorders. Accessed April 22, 2014.

4 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health. Adolescent health topics: mental health. Accessed April 22, 2014.

5 National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. Accessed April 22, 2014.

6 American Psychological Association. Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Accessed April 22, 2014.

7 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. MentalHealth.gov. Accessed April 22, 2014.

Data

Statistical Significance Test

Calculate the difference between two estimates:

Calculated Z-Test Result 0.9567433 Not statistically significant

We follow statistical conventions in defining a significant difference by a p-value less than 0.05 where there is a less than 5% probability of observing a difference of that magnitude or greater by chance alone if there were really no difference between estimates. The 95% confidence interval includes a plausible range of values for the observed difference; 95% of random samples would include the true difference with fewer than 5% of random samples failing to capture the true difference.

This website allows comparisons between two estimates using the independent z-test for differences in rates or proportions. This test is appropriate for comparing independent populations across years (e.g., 2011 versus 2012) or subgroups (e.g., Male versus Female) on corresponding measures. To the extent possible, the functionality of this application has limited estimate comparisons based on appropriate use of the independent z-test. However, some tables present subgroup categories within broader categories that will allow comparisons between non-independent populations (e.g., low birth weight and very low birth weight). Users should exercise caution when interpreting these test results, which will frequently overstate statistical significance.

For some tables, the website does not allow for comparisons between two estimates, even though the data represent independent populations. Generally, this is because the standard errors were not publicly available at the time this website was created.

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