Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 145-156

First online:

II. Utilization of Mental Health Services in a Tri-Ethnic Sample of Adolescents

  • Andres J. Pumariega
  • , Saundra Glover
  • , Charles E. Holzer
  • , Huang Nguyen

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In our study of a tri-ethnic sample of 2528junior and high school students, we examined utilizationof outpatient mental health services in relation to anumber of variables cited in the literature as leading to potential biases and barriers tocare. These include: age, gender, ethnicity,socioeconomic status, family size and composition, andlinguistic fluency in Hispanic youth. The impact ofservice availability was examined through differencesbetween the two regions studied: a well-served region ofcoastal southeast Texas and the markedly under servedlower Rio Grande Valley. The impact of symptomatology was evaluated using the total problem score onthe Youth Self Report by Achenbach. Hispanic youth hadsignificantly lower mean service utilization thannon-Hispanic whites. Multiple regression analyses demonstrated that socioeconomic status andfamily composition had a greater relative impact onutilization than all other non-clinical factors, bothfor the total sample as well as for the Hispanic sample. Ethnicity may play a significant role in childmental health services utilization through its closeassociation to socioeconomic status.