Race/Ethnicity, Parent-Identified Emotional Difficulties, and Mental Health Visits Among California Children

  • Jim E. Banta
  • Sigrid James
  • Mark G. Haviland
  • Ronald M. Andersen

DOI: 10.1007/s11414-012-9298-7

Cite this article as:
Banta, J.E., James, S., Haviland, M.G. et al. J Behav Health Serv Res (2013) 40: 5. doi:10.1007/s11414-012-9298-7


Variability in mental health services utilization by race/ethnicity was evaluated with a Behavioral Model approach. Subjects were 17,705 children 5 to 11 years of age in the 2005, 2007, and 2009 California Health Interview Surveys. Parents identified minor emotional difficulties in 18.7% of these children (ranging from 14.8% in Asians to 24.4% in African Americans) and definite or severe difficulties in 7.4% (5.5% in Asians to 9.7% in “other race”). Overall, 7.6% of children had at least one mental health visit in the prior year (2.3% in Asians to 11.2% in African Americans). Parent-identified need was the most salient predictor of mental health visits for all racial/ethnic groups. Beyond need, no consistent patterns could be determined across racial/ethnic groups with regard to the relationship between contextual, predisposing, and enabling measures and mental health service utilization. Different factors operated for each racial/ethnic group, suggesting the need for studies to examine mental health need, mental health service use, and determinants by racial/ethnic subgroup. These findings suggest that a “one-size-fits-all approach” with regard to policies and practices aimed at reducing mental health disparities will not be effective for all racial/ethnic groups.

Copyright information

© National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jim E. Banta
    • 1
  • Sigrid James
    • 2
  • Mark G. Haviland
    • 3
  • Ronald M. Andersen
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Health Policy and ManagementLoma Linda University School of Public HealthLoma LindaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Social Work and Social EcologyLoma Linda University School of Behavioral HealthLoma LindaUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryLoma Linda University School of MedicineRedlandsUSA
  4. 4.Department of Health ServicesUCLA School of Public HealthLos AngelesUSA

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