Therapy gap for depressed minority teens

EMORY (US) — Minority teenagers are far less likely to receive treatment for major depression than are whites, according to new research.

The number of non-Hispanic whites who received treatment was 40 percent, compared with 32 percent in blacks, 31 percent in Hispanics, and 19 percent in Asians after adjusting for demographics and health status. One-fourth of all adolescents received school based counseling.

“Investment in quality improvement programs implemented in primary care settings as well as school-based mental health services may reduce unmet need for mental health services in all adolescents with major depression and reduce the sizeable differences in service use across racial/ethnic groups,” write Janet Cummings and Benjamin Druss of Emory University.

For the study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Cummings and Druss analyzed five years of data (2004 – 2008) from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) with a representative sample of 7,704 adolescents, 12-17 years of age, who were diagnosed with major depression within the previous year.

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