Teens not getting needed psychiatric care

Teens not getting needed psychiatric care

Following a survey of more than 10,000 adolescents, researchers from Duke University discovered that more than half of teens, between the ages of 13 and 17, with psychiatric problems, receive no treatment of any kind.

Making the issue even more alarming, study leaders said of those who did receive care, most were not treated by mental health specialists. The findings were published online in Psychiatric Services.

Researchers say the findings highlight the critical need for improved mental health services for young people.

“It’s still the case in this country that people don’t take psychiatric conditions as seriously as they should,” said study author E. Jane Costello, professor of psychology and epidemiology, in a news release. “This, despite the fact that these conditions are linked to a whole host of other problems.”

Digging deeper into the analysis, the research shows that treatment is inconsistent when it comes to the type of disorder and also the students’ race.

Teens with ADHD and behavior disorders received care more than 70 percent of the time as compared with kids that have anxiety or phobias. White youths were much more likely to get care than blacks, the study shows.

Costello was also disappointed to report that, “In many cases, care was provided by pediatricians, school counselors or probation officers rather than by people with specialized mental health training. There simply are not enough qualified child mental health professionals to go around,” she said.

Mental health issues among young people are a big problem in the U.S. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, four million children and adolescents in this country have a serious mental disorder that significantly impacts their home and school life. Twenty-one percent of children between 9 and 17 have a diagnosable mental or addictive disorder that causes at least minimal impairment. Half of all lifetime cases of mental disorders begin by age 14.

“We need to train more child psychiatrists in this country,” Costello said. “And those individuals need to be used strategically, as consultants to the school counselors and others who do the lion’s share of the work.”

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  1. My son Mark was diagnosed with bipolar illness just after he turned 15. He received the best care available, a psychologist who specialized in teens and a psychiatrist who prescribed the appropriate medication. Mark . was hospitalized twice that year. As he approached his 16th birthday he refused to take his medication or see his psycholigist. On February 15 1995 Mark joined the 20% of patients with bipolar disorder who committe suicide. He hung himself in his bedroom closet. Suicide is second to auto accidents in teen deaths. I guess what I am trying to say is that mental illness can affect more than the behavior of teens. It can and does kill them.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.