Half of Teen Mental Health Problems Untreated: Study

Friday, 22 Nov 2013 03:56 PM

By Nick Tate

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More troubling news on the mental-health front: A Duke University study has determined more than half of adolescents with psychiatric disorders receive no treatment of any kind.
 
The study — by E. Jane Costello, a professor of psychology and epidemiology and associate director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy — also found that when treatment is provided, it rarely involves practitioners trained as mental-health specialists.
 
"It's still the case in this country that people don't take psychiatric conditions as seriously as they should," Costello said. "This, despite the fact that these conditions are linked to a whole host of other problems."

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The findings, published online in the journal Psychiatric Services, are based on a survey of more than 10,000 American teenagers. In addition to finding only half with mental-health problems received care for their conditions, the results showed treatment rates varied greatly for different disorders.
 
For instance, adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) received mental healthcare more than 70 percent of the time. By contrast, teens suffering from phobias or anxiety disorders were the least likely to be treated. Black youths were also significantly less likely to be treated than white youths.
 
In many cases, Costello noted, care was provided by pediatricians, school counselors, or probation officers — individuals with no specialized psychological training.
 
"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."
 
A string of shootings and violent incidents have drawn increased scrutiny to the U.S. mental-health system, including the mass murders at Columbine High.
 
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