Prevalence and correlates of mental health problems and treatment among adolescents seen in primary care

J Adolesc Health. 2012 Jun;50(6):559-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.10.005. Epub 2012 Feb 4.


Purpose: In this study, we describe the characteristics of adolescents with mental health problems among those presenting to primary care clinics in urban areas.

Methods: The sample included 1,076 adolescents aged 12-18 years who presented to federally qualified community health clinics in urban cities in the Midwest. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine the associations between having a mental health problem with demographic characteristics, health-related variables, and other risk and promotive factors. We also examined the use of health services and involvement in activities among those with mental health problems.

Results: Approximately 14% of adolescents screened positive for a mental health problem; among those with a mental health problem, 42.8% received mental health services in the past 3 months. In the multivariate logistic regression analysis, adolescents who were female, with poorer grades, fair to poor self-reported health, using drugs, and lower parental monitoring were more likely to have a mental health problem. In bivariate analyses, adolescents with mental health problems were less likely to participate in school activities and community activities and more likely to use emergency room services.

Conclusions: Adolescents with mental health problems were more likely to have several other difficulties including poor grades, poor self-rated health, drug/alcohol use, and sexual activity. This study highlights the importance of screening youth with multidimensional needs and referring them to the appropriate services.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation
  • Child
  • Community Health Centers / statistics & numerical data
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Educational Status
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Midwestern United States
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Utilization Review