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Disparities in Children’s Mental Health Service Use: The Impact of Language Spoken at Home  

Author:  Joshua P.  Cutler, MSW.; Aaron R.  Lyon, Ph.D.; Kelly  Thompson, MSW.; Ann  Vander Stoep, Ph.D..; Elizabeth  McCauley, Ph.D..

Source: Volume 12, Number 03, Summer 2012 , pp.64-69(6)

Report on Emotional & Behavioral Disorders in Youth

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It is estimated that one in five children and adolescents may have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder, but studies have found that fewer than half and as few as 11% of children with mental disorders receive treatment. Children with unmet mental health needs are at a higher future risk for academic underachievement, rejection by peers, and increased family stress. For these reasons, increased attention has focused on the issue of children’s mental health in recent years. The Surgeon General and President’s New Freedom Commission reports both called for more extensive research into pathways through which children access mental health services. They also stated the need for research that provides a richer understanding of the disparities that exist within the children’s mental health care system. There has been a growing body of research that has begun to shed light on these issues and work toward solutions to this public health concern. Key research has focused on pathways into services, racial/ethnic disparities in service use, and language barriers to services. The primary aim of this study was to examine the association between language spoken in the home and mental health service sector use for children.

Keywords: Acculturation; demographics of service sector use

Affiliations:  1: Sound Mental Health; 2: University of Washington School of Medicine; 3: University of Washington School of Medicine; 4: University of Washington; 5: Seattle Children’s Hospital.

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