Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Use of Mental Health Services

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Abstract

The authors used data from the 1998–1999 Community Tracking Study (CTS) household survey to examine variations in predictors of use of mental health services among different racial and ethnic groups (white, African American, Hispanic, and other). African Americans and Hispanics were less likely to have visited a mental health professional (MHP) in the prior year than were whites. Independent of health insurance and health status, low- to middle-income African Americans may be at particular risk for inadequate use of an MHP compared to higher-income African Americans. Similarly, upper-income Hispanics were more likely to have visited an MHP than Hispanics in the lowest income range. Adults aged 50 and older were less likely to visit an MHP than individuals aged 18–49. Depressed men were more likely to visit an MHP than depressed women. Efforts to reduce disparities should focus on lower-income racial and ethnic minorities.