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Public Health Reports: Mental Health Services in Childhood: The Role of Family Adversity

In a recent study in Public Health Reports, Drs. Héctor E. Alcalá and Rajesh Balkrishnan of University of Virginia examined the effect of childhood adversity on children’s use of mental health services. Data was obtained from the 2011-2012 National Survey on Children’s Health, which determined mental health service use in the past 12 months among children aged 2 to 17. Independent variables of interest were facing any one of 9 adverse family experiences (AFEs). Logistic regression models determined if each AFE was related to mental health service use. All models were adjusted for confounders. Experiencing all AFEs was linked to a higher odds of mental health service use. The greatest increase in odds of mental health service use was associated with neighborhood violence. Moreover, the effect on AFEs on mental health service decreased with age. The authors concluded that the association between AFEs and use of mental health services observed may be the result of more severe or poorly managed mental illness among children and that access to and quality of mental health care should been increase among those affected by AFEs.

Full article.



Public Health Reports (PHR) is the official journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service and has been published since 1878. The journal is peer-reviewed and publishes original research, reviews, and commentaries in the areas of public health practice and methodology, original research, public health law, and teaching at schools and programs of public health schools and teaching. It is published bimonthly, plus supplement issues, through an official agreement with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. PHR’s mission is to facilitate the movement of science into public health practice and policy to positively affect the health and wellness of the American public.

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