The Relationship Between Outpatient Mental Health Treatment and Subsequent Mental Health Symptoms and Disorders in Young Adults

  • Richard A. Van DornEmail author
  • Rick Kosterman
  • James Herbert Williams
  • Kristen Chandler
  • M. Scott Young
  • Richard F. Catalano
  • J. David Hawkins
Original Paper


The objective of this study was to evaluate community-based outpatient mental health services for young adults. Participants were interviewed at ages 21, 24, 27, and 30. Outcomes included: (1) symptoms of depression, generalized anxiety, social phobia, dysthymia and post traumatic stress individually and as a global scale; and (2) a dichotomous diagnosis variable inclusive of all above disorders. Treatment was indicated by an outpatient visit to a psychiatrist or other professional. Treatment did not reduce mental disorder or symptoms. Substance use, violence, poverty, community disorganization, and family history of antisocial behavior increased risks for negative outcomes, while social support was protective. The absence of positive findings associated with outpatient treatment is troubling given the empirically supported interventions for the conditions examined. Practitioners, agencies, and managed care organizations share a responsibility to implement effective and comprehensive interventions.


Outpatient treatment Mental health services Young adults 



This research was supported by grants #1R01DA09679-11 and #9R01DA021426-08 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, #R24MH56587-06 from the National Institute of Mental Health, and #21548 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard A. Van Dorn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rick Kosterman
    • 2
  • James Herbert Williams
    • 3
  • Kristen Chandler
    • 1
  • M. Scott Young
    • 1
  • Richard F. Catalano
    • 2
  • J. David Hawkins
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Mental Health Law & Policy, Florida Mental Health InstituteUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Social Development Research GroupUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Graduate School of Social WorkUniversity of DenverDenverUSA

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