Date: 11 Nov 2011

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Continuation of Community-Based Children’s Mental Health Services

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This paper examines racial and ethnic disparities in continuation of mental health services for children and youth in California and how English language proficiency moderates the effect of race/ethnicity on the continuation of service. While previous research indicated racial/ethnic or geographic disparities in accessing mental health services among children and youth, few studies specifically focused on the continuation of mental health care. The authors used administrative data from California county mental health services users under age 25. Applying logistic regression, English language proficiency was found to be the major determinant of continuation of mental health services in this age group. With the exception of children of Asian descent, non-English speaking children and youth of diverse racial/ethnic background were significantly less likely to continue receiving mental health services compared with White English-speaking peers, even after controlling for sociodemographic, clinical and county characteristics.