Background: Few adolescents with mental disorders consult mental health professionals or informal care providers, but many visit primary health care services. Primary care practitioners (PCP) have then the opportunity to identify and refer these adolescents to specialist services.
Methods: The Israel Survey of Mental Health among Adolescents conducted in 2004-2005 interviewed 957 adolescents and their mothers using the Development and Well-Being Assessment (DAWBA) diagnostic inventory and questions related to mental health and primary health care service use. Response rate in the located sample was 80%.
Results: Nearly 70% of adolescents had visited a PCP, more among adolescents with mental disorders and among those belonging to the Jewish majority group. Among adolescents with mental disorders whose mothers did not consult any mental health specialist, 76.5% visited a PCP.
Conclusions: Over 75% of adolescents with a mental disorder, who did not seek help from any mental health service provider in the past 12 months, visited a PCP in that period. The PCP's potential to identify, treat or refer untreated adolescents in need of mental care to specialized services is discussed.