HealthDay News — Nearly one in five U.S. adolescents receives care for mental health problems, a figure that has remained nearly constant from 2005 to 2018, according to a study published online March 25 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Ramin Mojtabai, M.D., Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and Mark Olfson, M.D., from the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City, used data from adolescent participants (aged 12 to 17 years) in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2005 through 2018) to examine national trends in the care of different mental health problems and in different treatment settings among adolescents.

The researchers found that 19.7 percent of the 230,070 adolescents across survey years received mental health care, but the overall prevalence of mental health care did not change much over time. Specifically, mental health care increased among girls (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.11), non-Hispanic white adolescents (aOR, 1.08), and those with private insurance (aOR, 1.11). Internalizing problems (including suicidal ideation and depressive symptoms) increased as a proportion of care (aOR, 1.52), whereas externalizing problems (aOR, 0.67) and relationship problems (aOR, 0.75) accounted for a decreasing proportion of care. Use of outpatient mental health services increased from 58.1 percent in 2005 to 2006 to 67.3 percent in 2017 to 2018 (aOR, 1.47), as did overnight stays in inpatient mental health settings (incidence rate ratio, 1.18).

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“These findings suggest that the demand for care of internalizing problems and for care in mental health specialty settings has increased among U.S. adolescents in the past decade,” the authors write.

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