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Mental Health Care Lacking for Kids, Advocates Say

FRIDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- Many American adults who work and volunteer with young people believe that children and teens have limited or no access to mental health care, a new survey finds.

Participants were asked about the availability of different kinds of health services for children and teens in their communities.

More than half of the respondents said there was "lots of availability" for teens to have hospital care (55 percent) and primary care (56 percent), but only 30 percent said the same was true for mental health care. Availability for children was very similar.

The survey was conducted by the University of Michigan-based National Voices Project, which was created to assess disparities in children's health, education and economic opportunities at the community level, through the input of paid adults or volunteers who work on behalf of children.

"These findings indicate low availability of mental health care for children and teens in the majority of communities across the U.S.," Dr. Matthew Davis, director of the National Voices Project, and an associate professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases, and of public policy, said in a university news release.

"Even in communities where there are lots of opportunities for children and teens to get primary care or hospital care, access to mental health care is lacking," he added.

The survey also found that in communities where respondents believed there were racial/ethnic inequalities, they reported that children and teens had less access to all health care services, including mental health care. This perceived lack of access was especially true for teens.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about child and teen mental health.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, April 2, 2013

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