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Mental health service use by adolescents of Indian and White origin


Background Despite the available epidemiological evidence on the prevalence of mental health problems in childhood and adolescence, there is limited knowledge on whether there are differences in the level of need and service utilisation by young ethnic minority groups.

Methods Adolescents of 13–15 years from nine schools in two English cities in which children of Indian ethnicity were over-represented (n=2900), completed rating scales on different types of mental health problems, contacts with services and informal supports.

Results Indian adolescents scored significantly lower on general mental health and depression symptoms. They were also less likely than White adolescents to self-report having mental health problems, even for a similar level of need. Among those with mental health scores within the clinical range, Indian adolescents were less likely to have visited specialist services. Instead, they were more likely to first approach family members, teachers or general practitioners.

Conclusions Rather than a blanket approach being applied to policy and service planning to meet the needs of diverse communities of young people, more specific evidence needs to be gained about patterns of referrals of minority groups and their strategy of accessing supportive adults.

  • Child Psychiatry
  • Health services research
  • School Health

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