Correlates of mental health service utilization and unmet need among a sample of male adolescents

Addict Behav. 2001 Jan-Feb;26(1):11-9. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4603(00)00075-7.


The authors sought to identify the correlates of mental health services utilization and unmet need for these services among a sample of adolescent males. We hypothesized that our findings would replicate and extend those of the recent Methods for the Epidemiology of Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders (MECA) study, which found that parental factors play a major role in their children's unmet mental health care needs. Our study involved an evaluation of mental health service utilization and unmet need during the prior 2 years, as reported by the subjects at a follow-up assessment at age 16. Four factors were found to predict increased mental health services utilization, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) among the adolescent males, the father's alcohol use disorder, and the mother's amphetamine use disorder. One factor was found to predict decreased utilization, the father's cannabis use disorder. Four factors significantly predicted unmet treatment need, including conduct disorder, the mother's amphetamine use disorder, a higher number of siblings, and a parental history of having had a childhood anxiety disorder. The results of this study suggest that parental psychopathology, parental substance abuse, the presence of conduct disorder, and an increased number of siblings act as barriers to adequate mental health treatment among adolescents. These findings confirm the crucial role that parental factors play in the treatment utilization and the unmet treatment need of their children, and also suggest that an increased number of siblings can also be associated with unmet treatment need.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nuclear Family
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*