Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Study Highlights How Correlates of Mental Health Service Use Differ Between Younger, Older Adults

Unlike older adults, full-time employment and living with a significant other do not appear to increase the likelihood that young adults will use mental health services, according to a study published in Psychiatric Services in Advance.

“These results highlight how correlates of mental health service use ... differ among young adults compared with results from the adult literature,” the study authors wrote. “[The] findings reinforce the need to examine correlates that may be unique to young adults… and the need to tailor mental health services to close service use gaps during this period.”

To examine rates of mental health service use among young adults with mental illness and correlates of use of mental health services, researchers from RTI International, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the National Institute of Mental Health analyzed data collected on young adults aged 18 to 26 who participated in the 2008-2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

Within the full NSDUH sample of young adults, 18.8% (n=22,600) were estimated to have a mental illness. Among these individuals, 20.4% used outpatient services, 3.6% used inpatient services, and 25.4% used psychotropic medication.

Similar to that reported in the literature on adult mental health service use, young adult females made greater use of outpatient and medication services compared with males, residents of metropolitan counties were more likely to use outpatient services compared with residents of nonmetropolitan counties, and African Americans and Latinos were less likely to use outpatient and medication services compared with non-Hispanic whites. Unlike older adults, young adults employed full time were less likely than those who were unemployed to receive services, and living with a partner (versus living alone) was not associated with a likelihood of using outpatient services—as has been reported in older groups.

“[These] results support the unique nature of young adulthood and the need to tailor mental health services to close gaps in service use during this developmental period,” the authors concluded.

Lisa Dixon, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and the director of the Division of Behavioral Health Services and Policy Research in the Department of Psychiatry, was recently appointed by APA’s Board of Trustees to be the new editor of Psychiatric Services effective January 1, 2017. In her new role, Dixon will oversee and ensure the quality of research submitted and published by Psychiatric Services through strategic outreach to top researchers.

(Image: iStock/Steve Debenport)


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