Ethnic and gender disparities in needed adolescent mental health care

John F.Fred Thomas, Jeff R. Temple, Noe Perez, Richard Rupp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Psychological problems are overlooked and undertreated in adolescents, especially in low-income and ethnically-diverse youth. School-based health centers are one way to increase health care utilization, and may be particularly important for accessing hard-toreach populations. The present study examines adolescents' psychological health and their experiences with receiving needed mental health care. Participants included 1,695 African- American (31%), Hispanic (38%), and White (31%) high-school students in southeast Texas. All students were from the same high school and all had access to a school-based mental health clinic. Twenty six percent of the sample had symptoms indicative of major depression, and 18% had scores consistent with subthreshold depression. Across all ethnicities, the prevalence of depressive symptoms was highest among females. Depressed White students were more likely than depressed minority youth to report having received a prior diagnosis of depression and to have been treated for depression. Thus, ethnic disparities in obtaining needed mental health care may persist even in settings where access to equivalent care is readily available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-110
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • School-based mental health care
  • Utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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