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25.03.2020 | Original Paper

Does childhood mental health service use predict subsequent mental health service use during Latino youth transition to young adulthood? Evidence from the Boricua Youth Study

Zeitschrift:
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Autoren:
Jennifer Greif Green, Rachel Oblath, Gerrit DeYoung, Kiara Álvarez, Ye Wang, Hector Bird, Glorisa Canino, Cristiane S. Duarte, Margarita Alegría

Abstract

Purpose

Studies document the substantial underutilization of mental health services by US Latinos in young adulthood. Rates of service use are higher in childhood, raising questions about whether mental health service use during childhood may facilitate access to services later in life. This article examines the extent to which utilization of mental health services in childhood is predictive of utilization in young adulthood among US Latinos.

Methods

Data come from the Boricua Youth Study, a longitudinal study of Puerto Rican youth at two sites (South Bronx, New York, and the standard metropolitan area of San Juan, Puerto Rico). Data were collected in three waves during childhood (ages 5–13; surveyed 1 year apart), with an approximately 11-year follow-up in young adulthood (ages 16–29). In childhood, parents reported on youth mental health service use (Waves 1–3). In Wave 4, as youth transitioned to young adults (N = 2004), they reported on their past year mental health service use.

Results

Whereas 30.2% of parents reported their child received mental health services, only 3.5% of young adults reported mental health service use in the past year. After controlling for young adult disorders and their severity, childhood disorders were associated with increased likelihood of mental health service use in young adulthood. Childhood mental health service use was also associated with young adult service use; however, this association attenuated when controlling for childhood disorders.

Conclusion

Findings suggest the importance of specifically considering childhood disorders in understanding mechanisms for improving access to mental health services among Latino young adults.

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