Adults Say Teenagers Do Not Have Proper Mental Health Access
April 3, 2013

Adults Say Teenagers Do Not Have Proper Mental Health Access

April Flowers for - Your Universe Online

It seems like news reports detail the impact of the deficiencies in the nation's mental health care services on a daily basis. A new survey from the University of Michigan is even more startling, revealing that many adults across the nation believe that access to mental health care services for children and teens is extremely limited or non-existent.

The National Voices Project was commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) to facilitate a five-year study. The Project was to gauge opportunities available for children and teens at the local level in communities across the United States. The National Voices Project study was based on the perceptions of adults who work and volunteer on behalf of children day-to-day.

"The adults in the National Voices Project survey work or volunteer on behalf of kids. These are the adults who are perhaps best positioned to refer children and teens to the healthcare services they need," says Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP, director of the National Voices Project. Davis is also an associate professor of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the University of Michigan Medical School and associate professor of Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Participants in the survey were asked how much availability there is in their communities for children and teens to receive healthcare services. More than 50 percent of all participants responded that there is "lots of availability" for teens to receive hospital care (55 percent) and primary care (56 percent) in their communities. Across all healthcare services, however, only 30 percent of respondents reported "lots of availability" for mental health care. The results for healthcare availability for children were very similar.

"These findings indicate low availability of mental health care for children and teens in the majority of communities across the U.S.," says Davis. "Even in communities where there are lots of opportunities for children and teens to get primary care or hospital care, access to mental health care is lacking."

In communities where there were perceived racial/ethnic inequities, respondents consistently reported less access to all healthcare services, including mental health. This was especially true for teens.

Where there are perceived inequities at the community level, there are also perceptions of diminished opportunities for young children and teens in the domains of nutrition, health, and healthcare, according to the full survey results.